The Teachers' Union of Ireland has confirmed that it will ballot members on limited industrial action in relation to proposals to change Junior Cycle education in second-level schools.

The union's executive committee confirmed the decision at a meeting today.

However, ballot dates are still to be set.

TUI President Gerard Craughwell said in a statement that the move was in protest at proposals that would seriously damage the quality of public education.

A second meeting of a working group established by the Department of Education took place this evening, which union representatives participated in.

The meeting discussed the issue of resourcing the reforms. Two further meetings will take place next Friday.

Last week, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn reiterated his intention to introduce reforms from this September.

The Department of Education has offered to slow down the pace of reform and also offered more training to teachers.

However, the two second-level teacher unions expressed disappointment that their concerns were not being addressed.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland is also to ballot members on the issue.

Extra support for primary schools

Primary schools that experience a significant increase in the number of junior infants enrolling may get some additional support from the Department of Education.

In a circular issued to schools this evening, the department says schools in this situation can now avail of a new appeals mechanism, which may grant additional teaching hours to cope with the increase.

Schools that are under the greatest pressure will be prioritised, it says.

These will typically be schools in areas of significant population growth.

Schools are normally allocated teachers on the basis of the number of pupils attending in the previous year.

This can cause difficulties for schools that experience a sudden increase in enrolments and today's measure is aimed at addressing that.

It is widely accepted that smaller classes are especially important for younger pupils.

The Department of Education, in its literature, encourages schools to favour junior classes when it comes to deciding how to divide available teachers across all levels.