14/10/2008

Ruane Calls For Resolve At Movilla Strike

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane (pictured) has called for a resolution to the walkout by teachers at Movilla High School, in Newtownards.

The Minister weighed-in on the debate, after the school remained closed for a second day.

Twenty-five teaching staff took to the picket line yesterday, in protest at having their pay docked.

Staff had refused to teach a boy who allegedly assaulted one of their colleagues.

The principal subsequently halted salaries.

Today the teacher at the centre of the assault claims spoke out.

He said: "I am concerned about the impact this is having on all of the pupils.

"I hope the situation is sorted out as quickly as possible," said the man, who wished to remain unidentified.

School governors decided not to expel the boy, a move supported by the Education Board, which said the incident has been "appropriately and proportionately dealt with".

Today, Minister Ruane asked for the privacy of the boy and his family to be respected.

She also called for a swift resolution to the matter, which has resulted in the school closing indefinitely.
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Speaking on the school, attended by 540-plus pupils, the Minister said: "We need to see this issue resolved. Whether it be by the offer of the Children's Commissioner to mediate, the auspices of the Labour Relations Agency, or local dialogue,

"I would also ask that the privacy of the pupil and their family be respected by all involved."

The Education Board has told the protesting teachers they would not be paid, even if they were teaching other classes normally.

The restoration of that pay is now the only stumbling block prohibiting talks at the Labour Relations Agency.

The teachers' union wants guarantees the pay will be restored; the board wants no pre-conditions.

The union has described this approach as "confrontational".

NAS/UWT representatives said morale on the picket line is high and the teachers have received plenty of support.

"We've have a very good response from the general public and other teachers generally," said the union's Fred Brown.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has also balloted its 10 members at Movilla High about refusing to teach the pupil in question.

(PR/JM)

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