The INTO’s Northern Conference took place on 3 and 4 March at the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen and was attended by almost 200 delegates. Over the course of the two days, INTO members debated and voted on motions submitted by INTO branches and districts throughout the six counties.
The motions passed at this year’s conference were:
Conference notes the failure of the Employing Authorities and the Department of Education to respond to the Pay Claim from NITC with an offer that is acceptable to the Council.
Conference welcomes the rejection of this derisory offer.
Conference calls on Northern Committee to work with the other recognised teachers’ unions of the NITC to devise and launch a pay campaign aimed at placing teachers’ pay on the agenda of every political party prior to the Assembly elections and make the resolution of the issue a feature of post-election negotiations that the political parties will engage in. Such a campaign will involve public meetings, rallies, the use of webinars and social media platforms to allow members’ voices to be heard.
Conference further calls on Northern Committee to continue, should it be impossible to reach an acceptable settlement on pay, to work with the NITC to bring forward a co-ordinated campaign of industrial action up to an including strike action.
(i) Notes the difficulties many schools have in securing substitute cover for staff absences.
(ii) Instructs Northern Committee to investigate whether the establishment of paid supply panels would alleviate the issue.
(iii) Calls on Northern Committee to present their findings to Northern Conference 2023.
Conference notes with concern the anticipated workload implications on SENCOs in schools due to proposed changes in the SEN guidelines.
Conference calls on Northern Committee to:
(i) Research the workload implications of these changes, and to develop an agreed resource allocation, both physical and personnel, for each school to protect teachers in this role.
(ii) Work through NITC to campaign for additional funding to enable schools to continue the preparatory work for the implementation of SEND processes and practices.
(iii) Work, through NITC, to ensure that the menu of resources identified, communicated to EA and funded to allow SENCOs to effectively carry out their role following the outworking of the SEN review.
(i) Notes with concern the lack of investment in education.
(ii) Further notes the difficult decisions school leaders have had to make due to being allocated an inadequate budget.
(iii) Calls on Northern Committee to work through NITC to campaign for further investment in Education.
Conference notes the decision taken by many post-primary schools to cancel entrance exams for the last two academic years.
Conference calls on Northern Committee to:
- Work through the NITC in an effort to bring about an end to the use of unregulated testing that some selective post-primary schools use to admit pupils through academic selection.
- Continue to lead the campaign to end academic selection in all schools.
- Initiate a policy document and strategy to end the unregulated tests once and for all.
Conference notes with concern the draft ‘Planning for Sustainable Provision: A Strategic Area Plan 2022-2027’ and draft ‘Planning for Special Education Provision: Special Education Strategic Area Plan 2022-27’, that include the potential closure of 284 schools.
Conference calls upon Northern Committee to work through NITC to seek to ensure that representation takes place at a strategic level with EA and partners to seek viable alternatives to school closures.
Conference notes the work being carried out in schools through the engage programme to help aid educational recovery post-Covid.
Conference calls on Northern Committee to work through NITC within TNC to secure funding to extend the engage programme until at least June 2026.
Conference calls on Northern Committee to work through NITC to initiate a review of the processes and procedures for the teacher career break scheme so that:
(i) A more consistent approach across all schools can be agreed and applied.
(ii) Members are provided with the most up to date information on circumstances in which a career break can be sought.
Conference notes that in many schools teaching costs account for over 90% of the allocated LMS school budget.
Conference further notes that teaching levels are often negatively impacted by the current school funding formulae as schools attempt to live within budget.
Conference calls on Northern Committee, through NITC, to lobby DE with a view to removing teaching costs from schools LMS budgets.
(i) Notes with grave concern the Education Authority’s lack of urgency to address the continued high levels of inequality to access support services across the region.
(ii) Acknowledges the additional workload which this places within the system.
(iii) Calls on Northern Committee to work, through NITC, with EA, towards homogenisation of support services in a timely manner.
(i) Commends the efforts of INTO to help members achieve a better work-life balance.
(ii) Calls on Northern Committee working through NITC to continue the campaign to highlight the legal entitlement of all members to have an agreed Directed Time Budget in place.
(iii) Further calls on Northern Committee working through NITC to campaign for this necessary entitlement to be extended to include principal and vice-principal colleagues.
(i) Notes with concern the excessive working hours that are carried out by many school leaders.
(ii) Further notes the ongoing issues in recruiting staff to leadership positions in schools.
(iii) Calls on Northern Committee to carry out a survey of actual working hours to identify workload drivers; and
(iv) Further calls on Northern Committee to work through NITC to develop a proposal for a maximum working hours policy for principals and vice-principals.
(i) The INTO’s success in achieving a pilot Assault Leave Scheme for teachers in the Republic of Ireland in 2017.
(ii) The unanimous vote in favour of a ‘No Fault Occupational Injury Leave Scheme’ for teachers at Annual Congress 2021.
(iii) The ‘Burgundy Book Scheme’, currently in place in England and Wales.
b) Condemns the fact that teachers’ ordinary sick leave entitlement can be diminished as a result of a work-related injury.
c) Calls on Northern Committee to engage with NITC to negotiate a similar ‘Assault or Occupational Injury Leave Scheme’ for teachers here, who have incurred a physical injury in the course of their approved duties.
(i) Notes with concern the need for a root and branch review of the current post-primary curriculum and assessment model.
(ii) Calls on Northern Committee to work with INTO colleagues on the Northern Education Committee to assess the nature of existing qualifications; and
(iii) Further calls on Northern Committee to explore the purpose, nature and design of appropriate successful existing international models with a view to developing a system that improves educational standards and pupil outcomes and to report back at Northern Conference 2023.
(i) Notes with concern the considerable inadequacies in the provision of frontline services to address the detrimental impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our school communities.
(ii) Calls on Northern Committee to lobby the Education Minister, EA and all relevant bodies for significant, multi-year, direct investment in a fully resourced educational Covid recovery plan which is effective and equitable.
(i) Notes that teachers have no facility within the defined 195 directed working days to take any leave other than those covered in DE Circular 2014/18.
(ii) Calls upon Northern Committee to work through NITC with the aim to negotiate through the TNC to have DE Circular 2014/18 revised to include a facility to allow teachers a facility to request up to 3 exceptional Health and Well-being days with pay that can be taken throughout each academic year.
Conference notes with concern recent communications by DE to school leaders outside of working hours.
Conference calls on Northern Committee to work through NITC to:
(i) Communicate with DE and reaffirm with them, the need to ensure that all electronic communications occur within appropriate working hours to ensure a sustainable work/life balance for school leaders; and
(ii) Remind DE that such inappropriately timed communications impact negatively upon the health and well-being of leaders in school.
Conference calls on Northern Committee to work, through NITC, to review with a view to reducing, the expectations of DE relating to schools’ strategic development work over the next full cycle of school development planning.
(i) Notes with concern that for some teachers returning to work from outside this jurisdiction, find that their placement on the salary scale is not reflective of their years of experience.
(ii) Instructs Northern Committee to work through the NITC to develop agreed criteria for progression on the salary scale to reflect the relevant years of experience abroad.
Conference calls on the Northern Committee to lobby CCEA and/or qualification providers for the restoration of BTEC qualifications through the medium of Irish.
Conference calls on Northern Committee to:
(i) Condemn all hatred that is directed towards our members when identified in school settings.
(ii) Engage with the Education Minister with a view to encouraging the Department of Education to develop an anti-extremist strategy/programme for young people in our schools.
(i) Notes with concern the lack of forward planning by the Department of Education in relation to staffing in schools.
(ii) Instructs Northern Committee to engage with DE and HEIs in an effort to work to future-proof that teacher supply meets demand within the education sector.
(i) Notes with concern the lack of recognition for teachers’ professional development.
(ii) Recognises that in other careers, and in teaching in other jurisdictions, this expense is rewarded in financial remuneration.
(iii) Calls for Northern Committee to enter negotiations with DE to develop a financial remuneration system based on an agreed list of additional post-graduate qualifications for teachers.
(i) Acknowledges the work of SEN staff in all schools in supporting the implementation of SEND.
(ii) Notes with concern the lack of training to meet the needs of the diverse classroom, particularly in the area of Sensory Integration and anxiety.
(iii) Calls on Northern Committee to work through NITC to call on the EA to devise appropriate training opportunities for all staff in supporting the needs of all learners.
(i) Notes with concern the increasing number of verbal and physical assaults on teachers in the classroom.
(ii) Calls on Northern Committee to campaign for school classrooms to be a safe place for all.
a) Notes with concern:
(i) The current status of GTCNI, following the Education Minister’s announcement of the decision to stand down the Board (the Council) with immediate effect on 13 December 2022.
(ii) That the form of future governance arrangements are to be considered, but in the interim, governance of GTCNI will be undertaken by the Department of Education.
b) Notes the fact that the day-to-day operation of GTCNI continues and the organisation itself remains open.
c) Calls on Northern Committee to engage with the other teaching unions and Department of Education to ensure that INTO are involved ‘front and centre’ with any future GTCNI governance arrangements affecting the interests of the teaching profession.
d) Demands that Northern Committee stress the importance that teachers are consulted on the future governance arrangements, safeguarding and promoting the interests of education.
Motions passed in private session can be viewed by INTO members here.