The leadership of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland met today to discuss details of their ongoing dispute with the Government over pay for more recently qualified teacher and payments for supervision and substitution duties.

The Department of Education has confirmed that talks with the ASTI have been scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Earlier, the Minister for Education Richard Bruton said that there has been contact between his department and the ASTI since the strike action.

Both sides were in contact to discuss the schedule of intensive talks for next week aimed at averting the indefinite shutdown of hundreds of schools on 7 November.

Speaking in Galway, Mr Bruton said that the Government wanted to engage in dialogue with the ASTI's Standing Committee.

He said there was a very substantial offer on the table which had been negotiated with other teaching unions and said this met the needs of teachers, regardless of what union they were in.

From 7 November, ASTI members will cease carrying out supervision and substitution duties - a move which will force many school closures for health and safety reasons.

The ASTI has been excluded from last month's restoration of an €800 payment for supervision and substitution because the union rejected the Lansdowne Road public service pay agreement.

The union has also stopped working the 33 additional so-called "Croke Park hours" imposed under previous pay agreements.

The Department of Education has proposed that if ASTI teachers resume working the Croke Park hours, they could be paid for supervision and substitution - though that proposal has not been accepted.