Second-level teachers are to be balloted in March on whether to co-operate with the new Junior Cycle proposals, unions have confirmed.

The ASTI and the TUI are objecting to aspects of Junior Cycle proposals announced by the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn.

They argue that they pose serious threats to education standards and to the objectivity and transparency of Junior Cycle exams.

Members of the ASTI and the TUI are also concerned about the time scale for the introduction of the proposals.

Teachers have also stressed that the proposals are likely to worsen inequalities between schools.

Minister Quinn said he regrets the decision to ballot on industrial action.

In a statement, he said he had listened to the concerns expressed by unions and others about the proposals and had made significant changes in areas such as the pace of change, training for teachers, and how students would be assessed.

Mr Quinn said he hoped teachers would not vote to disrupt students and schools through industrial action, and re-iterated that roll-out of the new JCSA would begin in September of this year.

The ballots will ask teachers to take industrial action including, but not limited to, non-co-operation with aspects of the new Junior Cycle, as directed by the ASTI and TUI.

Results of the ballots will be announced on 26 March.