Yesterday, the INTO revealed the results of the ballot regarding non-cooperation with the Droichead scheme. Despite all the obstacles put in the way from the CEC of the INTO and all the propaganda from the Teaching Council, 91% of INTO members have voted in favour of the ballot, which means that Droichead cannot happen in Irish primary schools until further notice.
This follows on from the result of an IPPN survey of primary principals where 80% of them revealed they would not be happy to cooperate with Droichead. It follows on from the fact that all the candidates that were voted on to the Teaching Council this year did so on an anti-Droichead stance. This result will be all the more bruising for the Teaching Council as the result is not just from principals. Almost all primary school teachers have stated that Droichead, in its current form, cannot happen.
Not only is this a crippling defeat for the Teaching Council, it is a massive embarrassment for the CEC representatives of the INTO who spent the last year or so trying to push the Droichead agenda through. The CEC even tried to stop this ballot from even happening and only for the clever work of people like Séamus O’Connor, Gregor Kerr and Máire Lineen, we may not have had the democratic right to vote. Some of the CEC representatives in the INTO must surely need to question their positions, completely failing to represent the views of their districts for quite some time.
What now for Droichead? It is deeply unfortunate that it has taken industrial action, but now the Teaching Council and the upper echelons of the INTO must start listening to their members. At this stage, I believe it is probably too late to tweak what has already taken place. The teachers who got through their probation year through the system can count themselves as lucky as the drivers who got their free driving licences from Charlie Haughey. We need to start again.
From a personal point of view, I think Droichead is a great idea and was probably heading in the right direction eventually. The problem it faced was the inability of our leaders to listen to the people who were going to be affected by the change. The leadership seemed only to listen to the “yes” people. The Teaching Council and CEC representatives need to go back to the drawing board to find out where things went wrong. I feel they also owe us an apology for putting us through the last few years. Droichead has burned many bridges with primary school teachers. It is time to start again and rebuild them.