Learn about the history of Irish Agricultural Science Teachers’ Association

In the early 1980s, the Dept. of Education considered combining the two subjects, Biology and Agricultural Science, into one subject for the Leaving Certificate Examination. At this time, Agricultural Science teachers were all working in isolation, without in-service or support from any source, except their own individual notes and resources. However a group of Agricultural Science teachers, in the south-east were meeting independently, sharing their ideas on how they could improve their own teaching of the subject to their students in their classrooms.

Alerted to the thinking that was happening in the Dept. of Education, and the spark of resistance that was lit in the South-East, word spread to other like-minded Agricultural Science teachers throughout the land. In 1985 the Irish Agricultural Science Teachers Association [IASTA] was founded. Mr. Marty Barrett (St. Peter’s College, Wexford) and Mr.Willie Considine, (Bridgetown Voc. School, Co.Wexford) were elected first Chairman and Secretary respectively.

They worked tirelessly travelling to meetings in each province to promote the primary aims of IASTA. The Dept. of Education listened to our representations and Agricultural Science continued to be a stand alone laboratory science subject in the Leaving Certificate examination. The next step for the fledgling organization was to promote the development of a new syllabus for Agricultural Science to replace the one that was in existence since 1972.

The role of the organization became widely recognized as a representative organization for Agricultural Science; Mr Willie Considine represented IASTA on the N.C.C.A. syllabus committee and was nominated as Chairman. Other IASTA members represented their teaching Unions etc over the years .The need for a new Syllabus arose due to the tremendous new Scientific developments and advancements that had taken place in agriculture following Ireland’s entry to the E.E.C. (now E.U.) in 1973.

The draft new Agricultural Science Syllabus was produced in 1994, before many of this year’s 8000 students will sit their Leaving Certificate exam. Although this¬†syllabus had been approved by the N.C.C.A., and the Department of¬†Education and Skills, it was never¬†implemented. It is, of course, out of date already and a new syllabus is in the early stages of draftsmanship.

Strong Link Has Been Established And Maintained

Since the foundation of IASTA, a strong link has been established¬†and maintained with numerous agricultural interest groups, including the¬†Agricultural Science Association¬†(A.S.A.),¬†The Farmers Journal,¬†AgriAware¬†& ¬†Teagasc, to name but a few. These collaborations have led to initiatives like the¬†Farmers Journal Study Guides, weekly articles on elements of the coursework, the textbook ‘Pastures New‘¬†and most recently a¬†Revision Aid. This collaboration has also yielded a ‘Dictionary of Essential Agricultural Science Terms’ and the ‘Agricultural Science Experiments’ Booklets.

IASTA are always on the lookout for new collaborations and our members can look forward to increased benefits in the future. Recently, Airfield Farm & Gardens have decided to offer a reduced membership to IASTA Members.

IASTA’s website was set up in 2011 with a complete redesign in 2014 (including the design of a new logo for the association). The website now manages all membership online and includes a wide range (and ever-expanding) series of resources.

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