Talks aimed at averting the widespread closure of secondary schools for an indefinite period from next Monday have broken up for the evening.

Yesterday, the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland issued a statement reiterating its intention to withdraw from the supervision of students from next week.

This action will lead to the closure of around 400 schools on health and safety grounds.

The Department of Education has said that ASTI teachers would be paid immediately if they sign up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The Lansdowne Road Agreement was negotiated to reverse pay and pension cuts for public service workers imposed since 2008. It extends the Haddington Road Agreement until 2018.

Talks took place at the Department of Education today but they have broken up for the evening and will continue tomorrow.

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Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said the dispute is "unnecessary" and the department pointed out that both issues in the dispute "have been dealt with for other unions".

The department called on the ASTI to "engage in meaningful talks in order to resolve the dispute".

Mr Bruton attended the annual conference of the National Parents Council Post Primary in Tullamore, Co Offaly, today.

He said the deal offered to gardaí by the Labour Court is explicitly within the terms of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

He said the Labour Court has used an approach that had been already used successfully with teachers and with firefighters.

He said the Government wanted to use the agreement dynamically to deliver for everyone.

The National Parents Council Post Primary has said that in the event of industrial action by the ASTI going ahead next week parents were hoping that schools would, at least be enabled to stay open for students in exam years such as the Leaving Certificate.