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QQI Bill “leaves English language teachers behind”

Trade union Unite, which represents English language teachers in the UK and Ireland, has said that a key piece of legislation that will enhance QQI’s powers in the area of English language education “leaves English language teachers behind”.

Unite said the ‘Learner Protection Fund’ aspect of the Bill should be matched by a ‘Teacher Protection Fund’ after the sudden closure of an English language school in Limerick.  Photo: Wikimedia

Unite members say they are angry but not surprised that there is no mention of teachers in the draft legislation

Unite said the ‘Learner Protection Fund’ aspect of the Qualification and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill should be matched by a ‘Teacher Protection Fund’ after the recent closure of an English language school impacted as many as 150 international students and left 10 teachers without wages.

“The focus of public policy has been on protecting students while leaving teachers behind”

In a statement, Unite Regional organiser Roy Hassey said the trade union’s members are “angry but not surprised” to learn that there is no mention of teachers in the draft legislation.

“The English Language Teaching sector has been built on the backs of workers, with precarious employment conditions rife and some teachers earning as little as €13 per hour,” he said.

“The focus of public policy has been on protecting students while leaving teachers behind, and this proposed legislation continues that trend – ignoring the fact that both teachers and students are crucial to the sector.”

Hassey added that unite is particularly disappointed in the wake of the LanLearn closure in Limerick which “left teachers high and dry”.

“Much of the focus of this legislation is on encouraging and facilitating language colleges to obtain an International Education Mark – whereas many colleges would be better advised to strive for a Fair Employment Mark.”

“Unite will be making our views known during the public consultation process and will be vigorously lobbying vigorously lobbying for amendments to the bill, including a Fair Employment Mark and protections for teachers in the event of a sudden school closure,” Hassey concluded.

This is not the first occasion that Unite has raised questions over the legitimacy of the ELT sector in Ireland after it held a protest in 2017 to highlight the allegedly worrying levels of bogus self-employment.

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