Here’s my A-Z of ASTI Convention this year:
A is for allowances, rumoured cuts to which will be a battleground in the weeks and months to come.
B is for Broderick, Brendan, who gave what was widely regarded as the most measured and effective Presidential Address to Convention for many years.
C is for Council, Teaching: the registration fee, the elections, the bank balance, the interference, all made delegates as angry as they got all week.
D is for Department of Education, which still seems more focussed on putting out fires than planning ahead with purpose.
E is for elections: Gerry Breslin is the incoming President and Sally Maguire is the next Vice President. There was only one contested election to Standing Committee (see S).
F is for Federation. The discussed union of the teacher unions. My proposal: it should be called The Federated Union of Teachers and Lecturers or FUTL!
G is for Guidance. The awful decision to move Guidance and Counselling provision within school’s teacher quota means the most marginalised and troubled will again be hit worst.
H is for holidays, a week of which many of us give up to attend Convention. Imagine the uproar if it was held in term-time!
I is for Ireland. There’s a referendum coming on our relationship with Europe, seemingly, and we’re in a financial pickle too. Who knew? (see Q and Y).
J is for jobs, hundreds more ‘taken out of the public service’ as they say, as if that’s a good thing.
K is for King, Pat, General Secretary, who has the unenviable position of leading and following members simultaneously…
L is for lectern, where many go and a few even inspire from.
M is for media, curiously understated this year, memo to members: a row attracts attention
N is for NQTs, those teachers who face poor prospects of pay and conditions, classic divide and conquer from DES
O is for old. How a veteran of 13 Conventions feels when someone on their twenties gets up to speak.
P is for Professional. The cuts to education in the last four years haven’t eroded the professionalism of teachers, but they have eroded their professional salaries and made it more difficult to do a professional job in an underfunded sector.
Q is for Quinn. The Minister who touted an EU Referendum (nothing to do with education) before telling us we didn’t understand the ‘fiscal situation of the country’ (we do).
R is for retired. More and more retired members are attending Convention and though their contributions often remind us of our history and our past successes, some wonder if it’s right that they vote on the conditions of those who are teaching every day.
S is for Standing Committee, ‘the leadership’ we heard about again and again, who are out of touch with members. (Not if they’ve fought and won two elections in six months like me!)
T is for tea and coffee, copious amounts consumed in daylight hours, little or none after the sun goes down.
U is for undervalued, how we all feel when the commentary turns to cuts, cutbacks and investment.
V is for Vita Cortex. The highlight of the week for me was when some of us visited the workers entering their 17th week of their protest. We collected €1400 for them, but the lesson they teach in solidarity is priceless.
Photos of the visit.
W is for Waterford, my own Branch. 12 delegates almost always ever present, and they can sure run an election campaign!
X is for excellent muffins at the Silversprings
Y is for yes. Make sure you support that referendum now!
Z is for zzzz: after three days and nights, catching up on sleep is a must!