Protestant Schools Protest Imposition Of Outside Staff

A bitter educational dispute is likely to lead to the courts as four Protestant schools in Dublin continue to refuse the imposition of teachers from other, now closed schools elsewhere.

They have begun legal proceedings against the Department of Education in what is now an increasingly bitter dispute by schools including Wesley College in Ballinteer and St Andrew's in Booterstown.

They have refused to accept teachers from Dublin schools that closed in the past year.

The Protestant schools say the new deal on redeployment obliging them to accept these teachers is unlawful and would undermine their special ethos. But critics of their stance accuse them of an elitist and discriminatory approach.

Last night, a Department of Education spokeswoman said the legal action by the Protestant schools would be "firmly opposed".

As the stand-off continues, the department is refusing to fill vacancies in the four schools until the issue is resolved.

The other schools taking legal action are Rathdown School, Glenageary, and St Patrick's Cathedral Grammar School in the city centre.

The schools are refusing to comply with a new deal on redeployment worked out as part of the Towards 2016 national agreement.

Under this deal, all schools are directed to accept suitably qualified teachers from schools that have closed in their region, without any interview procedure.

Last night Canon John McCullagh, a spokesman for the four schools, defended their stance: "The voluntary second-level schools under Protestant management were not consulted nor were they party to the redeployment scheme imposed by the Department of Education and Science.

“The scheme interferes with a board of management's role as an employer to have a reasonable expectation to interview and provide a written contract to employees," he said.

The Protestant schools say the new deal runs counter to the spirt of the Education Act, which acknowledges the right of all schools to protect their own ethos.

One source said last night: "This is not about Protestant teachers for Protestant schools; it is about the right of Protestant schools to select staff who are genuinely committed to their ethos.

“It is not about the religious background of teachers. It is about their willingness to fully subscribe to the special ethos of these schools."

The new redeployment scheme at second-level is the first to allow transfers between different types of schools in the sector. A long-running scheme at primary level allows teachers from one sector to be reassigned to a similar school.


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