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Primary staff fight online inspection reports

Irish primary teachers have withdrawn co-operation with school inspection reports which are due to be published for the first time from next month.

The teachers fear that publication of Whole School Evaluation and other inspectors' reports online will mean they will be readily identifiable and therefore subject to gossip, especially in small rural communities.

Education minister Mary Hanafin has warned that their action will put in jeopardy their next pay rise - 2.5 per cent - which is also due next month.

Until now, bar the odd newspaper leak, the reports have never been officially published. With one exception, those that have been leaked have been very positive. They are much less critical of schools than inspection reports in the UK tend to be.

The minister has sought to reassure teachers that there will be no league tables, that no results of exams or standardised assessments will ever see the light of day and that individual teachers will not be scapegoated.

Urgent discussions are under way with the teachers' union, the Irish National Teachers Organisation, to find a way to break the impasse.

In the meantime, an adjudication is expected shortly to the effect that the refusal to co-operate amounts to industrial action which breaches the national pay agreement.

The minister says she is pressing ahead with plans to publish available reports on her ministry's website.

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