TUI President Seamus Lahart
Two Tipperary men, as representatives of the Teachers Union of Ireland, were involved in the historic decision taken to cancel the 2020 Leaving Certificate.
The TUI was one of the major stakeholders involved in talks leading up to the decision between the Minister for Education Joe McHugh, the Department of Education, other unions and representatives of management at schools .
Seamus Lahart, a native of Drangan who lives in Clonmel, and John MacGabhan, a native of Clonmel, represented the TUI.
Seamus Lahart has been President of the TUI since July 2018. He is a second level teacher in Coláiste Dún Iascaigh in Cahir.
John MacGabhann is General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents 19,000 members in second level schools, further/adult education colleges and third level colleges.
John taught English and Irish and held a number of elected TUI offices including school representative, branch officer and area representative. He was later elected as TUI President and also worked as Education/Research Officer with the Union.
Following the decision , TUI President Seamus Lahart said:
‘While the clear preference of the TUI has always been that the written examinations would proceed, regrettably this has proved to be not possible due to public health advice. Recognising this, the executive committee of the Union decided on Friday that members would engage with calculated grades to allow students to progress with their lives.
However, we are now seeking urgent clarifications and clearer guidance on a range of issues.
Crucially, a protocol that protects teachers from any form of lobbying or canvassing in relation to their role in terms of the system of calculated grades must immediately be introduced by the Department of Education and Skills. The professional integrity and independence of teachers must be protected. They should not be subject to any undue pressure whatsoever in relation to their role. The TUI’s call for a protocol also envisages protection for students, as to favour one would be to put others at a disadvantage.
In addition, we must ensure that this emergency system of facilitating progression to further education or employment is fair for all students, irrespective of their socioeconomic background or the school that they attend. No student should be further disadvantaged as a result of the cancellation of the written examinations.
Finally, it is important to state again that while we recognise the exceptional circumstances of this year, implementation of these measures on an emergency basis will not and cannot be regarded as a precedent, and this is acknowledged by all parties, including the Department and the Minister.’ said Seamus Lahart.
John MacGabhann, TUI general secretary, said guidelines were needed about what would constitute individuals, such as parents, attempting to compromise the process of calculating a student’s grades.
“There needs to be a clear sign that any form of pressure is simply inappropriate and won’t work,” he told The Irish Times.
This would include “benign” or “soft” efforts to influence teachers, and the Department of Education needed to clearly set out what would constitute parents “overstepping”, he said.
“Guidelines on how the calculated grade system will work state that teachers “must not under any circumstances discuss with any student, or with the parents or guardians of any student, the estimated marks that the school is submitting”.
The guidelines state that allowing discussion would “interfere” with the process being carried out “properly and fairly”. he said
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