ETI blames industrial action for delay in inspection follow-ups

Written by: Simon Doyle | Published:

Action from teachers over pay is preventing Northern Ireland secondary schools exiting special measures, it has been claimed.

Teaching unions withdrew cooperation with the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) as part of action short of strike in a dispute over pay.

There has been a rise for teachers in England, which unions in the North say must impact positively on pay talks. The UK government’s award of 3.5 per cent does not apply to staff in Northern Ireland.

Unions rejected an offer that would see staff receive no across-the-board pay rise for 2015/16, and a one per cent cost of living uplift for 2016/17. They have since submitted a claim for a five per cent increase.

Due to the action affecting ETI, follow-up inspections for schools in the “formal intervention” scheme can not take place fully. Schools in this process must work to address issues raised during inspection. The ETI gave Movilla High School in Newtownards a grade of inadequate in January 2014. Enrolments had fallen steadily while there was a need to address underachievement in exams.

A follow-up in 2015 concluded it still needed to “address urgently significant areas for improvement”. An interim inspection in 2016 found progress was being made, however a second follow-up in May 2018 coincided with industrial action. The ETI says it is, therefore, unable to evaluate if areas for improvement have been addressed.

Wellington College in Belfast and Fivemiletown College in County Tyrone are in the same position, having both entered intervention in late 2015. On Wellington, inspectors noted:

“Owing to the impact of the action short of strike being taken by the teachers, the ETI is unable to assure parents/carers, the wider school community and stakeholders of the quality of education being provided for the pupils.”

Two other post-primaries in Belfast – Dundonald High School and De La Salle – also remain in intervention.


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