Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (465)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

465. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the joint statement by associations (details supplied); if she will engage with both organisations in order to hear the concerns of all parents and ensure that they are represented on all advisory groups in relation to post-primary education, particularly in relation to the leaving certificate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7234/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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 (NPCPP). 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. 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.

Both the Catholic Secondary Schools Parents Associations (CSSPA) and the Education and Training Boards Schools National Parents’ Association (ETBsNPA) are 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.

On Friday 5 February, I announced that I was inviting these education stakeholders to participate in intensive, confidential bilateral discussions with department officials to progress work on two distinct processes for Leaving Certificate 2021: planning for examinations and scoping out a corresponding measure, different to examinations that can also be offered to students. Discussions on Junior Cycle examinations will continue in these engagements.