General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Hope for strike's end


30/10/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

There were hopes last night of a breakthrough in the Movilla High School strike after employers made a renewed offer to union representatives.

Classes at the school in Newtownards, Co Down, have been empty for almost three weeks after staff walked out amid a dispute over an alleged assault on a teacher by a pupil.

Staff who refused to teach the 15-year-old boy at the centre of the allegations took the action after the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) informed them their pay would be suspended.

The teenager is due to appear in juvenile court next month in relation to the incident.

Last week both the board and NASUWT union agreed to abide by the recommendations of an independent assessment on the pupil's needs but the deal foundered on the issue of whether or not the union would be able to gain sight of the findings.

The board has now made a revised offer to the union which it is understood could pave the way to a settlement.

The 540 pupils have missed two weeks of classes with the school now on its scheduled mid-term break.

Education minister Caitriona Ruane last night said she was hopeful that the school could re-open after the week-long Halloween holiday.

"NASUWT had identified one issue as preventing the strike from being suspended," the Sinn Fein minister said.

"I understand that the SEELB has now made a proposal to the union that it believes satisfies this demand.

"I am hopeful that the union will soon announce the suspension of the strike to allow the teachers to return next Monday so pupils, particularly those due to sit exams, can resume their full timetable.

"My department is in the process of identifying an independent assessor to assess the educational needs of the individual pupil.

"The assessment will commence as soon as possible and I hope we are now nearing the end of this dispute."



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