INTO Congress: A Lesson in how to do Congress

The INTO congress was on this week. You might have missed it because you probably didn’t hear much about it in the media. This was probably because it was a massive success on all fronts. One could almost hear Katherine Donnelly’s disappointment that she couldn’t use words like “whinging.” Sometimes, we have to look at ourselves and pat ourselves on the back and this year was one of them.

The only person that made the headlines was the acting Minister for Education who chose not to attend any of the union congresses. While her apologists will claim there was little point in being there, the fact that Alan Kelly saw fit to have meetings about homelessness despite being in a similar position, O’Sullivan’s absence demonstrates a clear disregard for education. However, in a possibly accidental moment of genius, someone invited Dermot Ferriter to the stage. There was no better man to tell delegates about the dark stain of discrimination. I don’t think Jan O’Sullivan would have got away with that.

However, the one headline grabber was the excellent response to pay inequality for teachers. Despite the INTO and the majority of teachers selling them out as part of the Lansdowne Road Agreement, they did not lie down and get on with it. This was one dark stain that wasn’t let go by teachers and it proved to be an excellent result.

There were other victories for primary school teachers with regards to Droichead, Cosán and the new Literacy Curriculum. While no one is saying that all of them are terrible ideas, the speed of introduction was too much especially in light of the fact that proper resources and funding are not being provided for any of them.

For me, this congress demonstrates how teachers can implement change without the need for public rows and megaphones. It can be done quietly and with dignity. When the media have little to say, it appears this is the true measurement of success.

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