The Donegal man who has been elected president of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) says he wants to bring the presidency to teachers around the country.
West Donegal man John Boyle was elected the INTO’s new president this week and begans his time in the role on Thursday.
Speaking the the Donegal Democrat, he said he was delighted that he had received the mandate from the membership of largest teachers' trade union in Ireland in the first contested election in the union in 37 years.
Mr Boyle attended Mullaghduff N.S., Scoil Naomh Dúigh, Annagaire and Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola before he entered St. Patrick’s College of Education in 1983.
He is principal teacher at St. Colmcille’s J.N.S., Knocklyon, Co. Dublin, one of Ireland’s largest schools. Before that he taught at Scoil Mhuire in Ballyboden for 14 years.
A member of the INTO throughout his career he was elected deputy president of the union a year ago.
“It is a strong mandate and the members have spoken,” he said of his election victory. “The membership went for tried and trusted and I looking forward to getting started.”
Members of his family from Donegal, including his father, were present at the INTO's annual conference in Belfast yesterday when he officially took the role.
Pay of members will be a priority, he said. “My priorities in a nutshell would be to bring every teacher forward in terms of salary,” he said.
The INTO represents about 7,000 primary and post-primary teachers in Northern Ireland and over 30,000 primary teachers here. In the North the union is dealing with an impasse with the administration regarding teacher’s pay and here there has been some progress on pay talks, Mr Boyle said.
“We have managed to fast-track pay talks for a successor to the the Lansdowne Road Agreement.”
South of the border the main priority is the equalisation of the salaries of teachers who graduated after 2011.
“We have received far more new graduates and have extra teachers but pay equity for new teachers who graduated after 2011 is a massive issue.”
Another major issue facing the union is the restoration of awards for principal teachers and deputies, especially for teaching principals.
“The awards were agreed in 2008 by the government and that would be have been paid nine years later but it has not. It is a big issue in Donegal where there are a lot of teaching principals.”
The union has secured managment payments for 1,250 teaching posts but the campaign must continue to increase those, he said, as a moratorium on such posts has seen more than 4,000 disappear.
“This has happened at a time when the workload has increased on teachers - especially the demands for paperwork and accountability, planning documents and policy documents. This has happened at a time when management structures have been removed from schools. From September 1st, 1,250 management post for teachers will be coming on stream, so we have had some success, but we lost 4,000 positions and we hope to see them restored over a period of time.”
Another aim he has for his 50-week term is to spend as much time as he can outside the capital getting the views of teachers around the country. “I would like to bring the president to the members and not be office bound or Dublin-bound. I want to go and visit schools and hear the stories that teachers want told and I see myself as a vessel for communicating those stories.”