The planning work underway in respect of the Leaving Certificate Examinations in 2021 is being assisted by an Advisory Group of key stakeholders which has met on a number of occasions in recent months. The Advisory Group has been convened to advise Government on all of the various issues arising in relation to the holding of the 2021 examinations, including public health considerations and appropriate contingency measures. The Advisory Group, which was initially constituted in April 2020, includes representatives of students, parents, teachers, school leadership and management bodies, the State Examinations Commission, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education, including the National Educational Psychological Service.
Parents are represented at the group by both the National Parents Council – Primary (NPC) and the National Parents Council – Post-Primary (NCPPP). The Education Act puts the recognition of these bodies on a statutory footing as the official parent representative bodies at national level. Both parent organisations represent all parents and guardians in schools throughout the country, irrespective of school ethos or patronage. Both Parents Councils have actively engaged in the work of the advisory group since it was constituted and have ensured that the advice provided by the group to my Department was informed by the voice of parents.
It is understood that, up until recently, both the Catholic Secondary Schools Parents Associations (CSSPA) and the Education and Training Boards Schools National Parents’ Association (ETBsNPA) were constituent bodies of the National Parents’ Council Post-primary. Other constituent bodies of the NPCPP also includes the National Association of Compass – Co-operation of Minority Religion and Protestant Parent Associations (Post Primary) and Parents Association of Community & Comprehensive Schools (PACCS).
My Department has been informed that the boards of the National Parents Council Post Primary and of the National Parents Council Primary have agreed to work together to progress plans to form a new National Parents Council representing all parents in order to strengthen the voice of parents from early years right through to the end of second level education. A single representative body for all parents of Irish schoolchildren will be able to provide advice and services to all parents and engage effectively with all key stakeholders to ensure that the parents’ voice in education is strong.