The governance structure of schools is such that, in accordance with the Education Act 1998 schools are managed by boards of management on behalf of the relevant school patrons. Under the Act, each board of management, in carrying out its functions, is required to do so in accordance with the policies determined by the Minister.
In primary schools the agreed composition and procedures for the appointment and operation of boards of management of primary schools are set out in my Department’s publication “Governance Manual for Primary Schools 2015 - 2019”. The term of office of all circa 3,300 primary schools is for four years and the term of office of the current boards will expire on 30 November 2019 with new boards to be appointed from 1 December 2019. In anticipation of the appointment of new boards from 1 December 2019, the Department, following consultations with organisations representing school management, parents and teachers will have in place an updated Governance Manual in advance of the new boards taking up office.
At post primary level requirements in respect of the composition, appointment and operation of boards of management are set out in legal governing documents relevant to each of the three post primary sectors.
Work on the drafting of the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019 is close to being finalised and I intend to seek Government approval shortly for its publication. Under the Bill, each school will be required to prepare, publish and implement a Student and Parent Charter in accordance with national guidelines to be published by the Minister after consultation with the education partners. The key aim of the legislation is to improve how schools engage with students and their parents. The charter legislation will include requirements for consultation and engagement with parents and students on matters relating to school life and in respect of the development, review and updating of school plans, policies and activities.
Key concepts in the legislation also include the need for schools to respond to feedback and comments from students and parents where appropriate and to address and resolve any concerns of students or their parents relating to the school as far as possible at an early stage. In addition, the legislation will provide for the charter guidelines to include new procedures that all schools will be required to follow when dealing with complaints of students or their parents relating to the school. The procedures, will help ensure that grievances of students or their parents relating to the school are dealt with efficiently, fairly and consistently across schools.