The central executive council of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland has decided to ballot its members on non co-operation with the programme to replace the Junior Cert, following the Teachers' Union of Ireland's decision to do so.

The ASTI central executive council meeting took place at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin.

The new programme, covering the first three years of secondary education, aims to reduce the focus on a final exam and to allow more opportunities for independent, as opposed to rote, learning.

In a statement last night, the ASTI and the TUI expressed "grave disappointment" after a meeting yesterday with the Department of Education and teaching bodies to discuss the changes.

They said there was no genuine engagement on the issues of most concern to teachers.

The TUI executive committee will meet on Friday next to discuss the wording and timing of the ballot.

After yesterday's meeting, the Department of Education said it will slow down the pace at which the new programme will be introduced.

The department also said an increased amount of training will be provided to teachers to enable them to teach the new curriculum.

There were no firm proposals at the meeting on two key issues; a lack of resources in schools and concerns around school-based assessment.

But the department has proposed that sub-groups be established to look in detail at these two matters.

Schools are concerned that recent cutbacks and the loss of middle management posts in schools will hinder their ability to introduce the programme successfully.