Vindication of TUI position on comprehensive indemnity

Friday, 22nd May 2020 | 0 comments

A message from TUI President Seamus Lahart and TUI General Secretary John MacGabhann, followed by the text of a statement issued this afternoon

Colleagues,

You will no doubt have noticed the flurry of activity and commentary regarding the indemnity that applies to staff involved in the system of Calculated Grades.

From the outset, the TUI has been unyielding in its insistence that the system of Calculated Grades would have to be underpinned by an indemnity for all the staff involved in it at school/centre/college level.

Government agreed to provide such an indemnity (with cabinet approving it yesterday) and the TUI has been clear in its understanding that it is comprehensive in its scope and is on a par with what applies in the case of other public servants who may have an exposure to legal proceedings arising from their work because of its critical and/or sensitive nature.

In order to make assurance doubly sure, the Union addressed a number of matters to the Department for confirmation or clarification, as appropriate.

We sought confirmation of our understanding that

  • the CSSO will act for/defend any teacher who discharges her/his functions in relation to the calculated grades system in good faith but against whom legal proceedings are taken
     
  • in the event that legal proceedings are taken,“costs” includes such costs as are reasonably incurred
     
  • all staff involved in the calculated grades process in a school/centre/college are covered by the indemnity and that, in this context, the term “teacher” is to be understood generically to cover all such staff  

We have received confirmation that our understanding is correct in respect of each of these matters.

At the time of writing, we are awaiting confirmation/clarification regarding a couple of other matters and are advised that it will be provided early next week.

The TUI has treated matters related to the indemnity as process matters and, in that context, we have addressed them (and will continue to do so) directly to the Department. We have not addressed them to or through the media, although we have had to respond to a number of media queries over the past 24 hours.

Our members began their work in relation to the calculated grades with the confidence and security of knowing that they are indemnified. The confirmations we have secured reinforce that confidence.

Below, for your information, is the statement issued by the Union this afternoon. It includes the text issued by the Department.

Le gach dea-mhéin,

John  MacGabhann        Seamus Lahart

General Secretary           President

________________________________________________________________

Vindication of TUI position on comprehensive indemnity

In the course of the TUI’s ongoing engagement with the Department of Education and Skills regarding the use for this year (only) of a system of Calculated Grades, the Union sought and secured a number of specific protections for staff involved in the school-based generation of estimated marks.

Specifically, the TUI, in concert with the other partners, secured a full, government-backed indemnity, that comprehensively covers all our members involved in the estimation of marks against legal costs that  could be incurred in the event, however unlikely, that legal proceedings were taken against them in relation to their function in this regard.

For the avoidance of any doubt, the Union sought and secured confirmation from the Department of our clear understanding of the comprehensive nature of the indemnity. In this context, the union sought and has received  confirmation that the Chief State Solicitor’s Office will  act for the teacher in every instance in which the indemnity applies – i.e in every instance where the teacher has discharged her/his obligations in relation to estimated marks in a bona fide manner. This means that a teacher will not have to engage his/her own personal  legal advisors and incur the associated, and possibly substantial, costs.

The Union also sought and received confirmation that where the indemnity refers to “teacher”, that the term covers all staff involved in the process of estimating marks – teachers (including principal and deputy principal teachers), Youthreach Resource Persons/ Co-ordinators, tutors, lecturers, as applicable.

In short, the indemnity applies to all such staff.

While clarification in relation to a number of other issues raised by the TUI is awaited, the key matters have been addressed.

The text of the clarification provided by the Department is as follows:

Clarifications on indemnity for Calculated Grades Model

Teachers and school leaders will be implementing the Calculated Grades process in schools on behalf of the Minister for Education and Skills.  The Minister went to Government specifically on that matter yesterday (21 May)  and secured a Government Decision, in line with Public Financial Procedures, to put in place an indemnity for teachers (including principals and deputy principals), boards of management of recognised schools and education and training boards arising out of the discharge of their functions under the calculated grades model to be applied to Leaving Certificate students in 2020.  The wording of the indemnity given by the State has been approved by Government.

In relation to the indemnity itself, the Department wishes to clarify that the “legal expenses” which are referred to in the indemnity includes all reasonable costs arising from the defence of civil proceedings including reasonable expert witness costs and stenographer costs as advised by the Attorney General.

The Department also wishes to clarify that, in all cases where the indemnity applies, the CSSO will be instructed to act on behalf of the teacher/board.

The Department is also happy to confirm that the word “teacher” as it appears in the text relating to the indemnity, comprehends tutors, Resource Persons, third level lecturers, PME students and others who may not in all instances be registered teachers but who, by virtue of their settings and particular area of expertise, have taught/delivered a subject or subjects from (one of more of) the Leaving Certificate programmes (LCA, LCVP, LCE) to Leaving Certificate students who are entitled to receive calculated grades.

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