I thank the Deputy for asking this question. Before I answer, I pay tribute to her for her work on the Committee on Education and Skills, from which she knows that we are progressing the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018. English language teaching is important to Ireland. It is also important to the students who come here to study the language if we are to ensure that they have a good experience and receive quality teaching.
We want to ensure that teachers are qualified and are treated properly, fairly and consistently by their employers. To this end, I recently appointed Mr. Patrick King, the former general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland, ASTI, as a mediator for the sector. He is meeting the employer and employee representative bodies to identify and discuss relevant issues. Recently, I wrote to 119 of the schools in question inviting them to meet Mr. King. His objective is to explore whether there is scope for a set of minimum employment standards that could be agreed for the sector, that is, registered employment agreements, REAs. These efforts complement what I was doing in the Seanad just before Christmas when it debated the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill. A date in early February has been set for returning to the Seanad.
For interested parties that might be listening in, including those to which we have written, we are encouraging them to submit their views on relevant issues. These submissions will assist the mediator in his work. A dedicated email address is now open to receive submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish Mr. King well in his work and I encourage all relevant stakeholders to engage meaningfully with him. It is in all of our interests to strengthen the quality of English language provision in Ireland.