I propose to take Questions Nos. 311 and 312 together.
The Department of Education and Skills has issued a total of 285 circulars since 2016 – 81 in 2016, 84 in 2017, 84 in 2018 and 36 to date in 2019. All of these circulars are published on my Department’s website. A number of circulars are issued on an annual basis and thereby amend or replace the previous versions.
The circulars cover a wide range of topics such as school staffing matters, continuing professional development for teachers, curriculum developments and buildings issues. Circulars may be addressed to a variety of stakeholders including, for example, teachers, principals, school managers and Education and Training Boards.
Engagement with stakeholders on circulars can happen in a variety of ways. For instance, there are industrial relations fora set up across the education sector where issues arising from circulars may be raised. Education and Training Boards are required to comply with the Department's circulars. They are subject to audit by the Internal Audit Unit - ETBs to ensure, inter alia, compliance with the relevant circulars.
In the instance where a school inspector, in the course of an inspection, becomes aware of a school’s non-compliance with Departmental circulars, the inspector will bring the matter to the attention of principal and to the Board of Management as appropriate. The non-compliance may also feature in findings and recommendations section of the inspection report. Where serious and/or multiple instances of non-compliance are noted the Inspectorate forwards a memo on the non-compliance to the relevant section of the Department for their attention.
Non-compliance with the requirements of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 (circular 81/2017) are always referred to in a discrete section of the inspection report.