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Union president role for Jack

RICE College teacher Jack Keane from Girroga Heights, Ennis, is the new president of the country’s largest second-level teachers’ union, the ASTI.

RICE College teacher Jack Keane from Girroga Heights, Ennis, is the new president of the country’s largest second-level teachers’ union, the ASTI.
He is the third Clare president of the organisation, as Mick Corley of St Flannan’s College held the position 10 years ago and Miltown Malbay man John Hurley, representing the Limerick branch, served as ASTI president in the mid-1990s.
Jack teaches geography and English and said that the key priorities for him are protecting teachers’ conditions of employment and protecting education from further cutbacks.
“Our schools were under-funded before any of the cutbacks of the past two years were ever announced. As ASTI president, I will work to convince politicians that adequate investment in education is the route to economic recovery. This is not the quick-fix solution the Government so desperately wants but it is the only enduring solution and it is the only way we can protect the future life chances of our young people,” he commented.
Jack is originally from Galway City and studied at University College Galway. He has been an active member of the ASTI for more than 30 years, serving as a school steward, branch chairperson and on a number of ASTI committees including the central executive council, education committee and standing committee. Jack has represented the ASTI on the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Teaching Council. The ASTI represents more than 18,000 second-level teachers in schools all over the country.
Jack said that thousands of teachers had lost their jobs in recent times. “In particular, a considerable number of part-time teachers and resource teachers lost their jobs. Teaching was always deemed as a secure, pensionable job but that cannot be said any more as a result of these cuts. Class sizes have gone up, resulting in mixed ability classes, with the effect that the weaker students tend to lose out. There are also reduced subject choices in many schools due to job cuts and the subjects with lowest take-up are those that are lost as options to students. The fear here in particular is that in the drive towards a smart economy, that take-up of science subjects is low and a lot of schools have lost some science subjects,” he added.
He said middle management positions in many schools are not being filled when the position becomes vacant. “These were paid roles with areas of special responsibility. The non-renewal of these positions has negative consequences for schools, as no one is appointed to deal directly with these particular areas,” he said.
For his year as president of the ASTI, he is seconded for a year from Rice College. “I have been working there for 30 years so it will be a big change for me. I wasn’t teaching for two days a week last year while I was vice-president of the ASTI,” he added. His wife, Annette, is a retired teacher of Rice College.
In his spare time, Jack is a sports enthusiast and has been interested in and played rugby for most of his life. “While I lived in Galway, I played with UCG and Corinthians. These days I’m a rugby supporter,” he said.
He also played squash in Ennis and plays golf and is a member of Ennis Golf Club.
Jack is highly complementary of second-level education in Clare. “We have a quality second-level education system in Clare – great schools, great teachers and generally a huge interest among the public in education.
“This is borne out in the high number of students who go on to third-level education each year in Clare. The average across the county of students going on to study at third-level is about 75%, with some schools having close to 100%. This shows that Clare schools are doing a very good job and we should be very proud of that fact,” he commented.


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