Schools ‘should be managed locally’

Community national schools should be managed by local boards — so says the head of the education and training boards which run them.

While 11 such schools have opened since 2008, offering multi-denominational education in mostly urban settings, they remain on a pilot basis. Those already operational are under the management of education and training boards (ETBs) in Dublin-Dún Laoghaire, Louth-Meath, Kildare-Wicklow and Cork, the last two of which opened new community national schools this month.

Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) general secretary, Michael Moriarty, said their pilot status means ETBs, chosen to be patrons, still await that function being transferred from Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan. More importantly, he said, each is still overseen by a ministerial-appointed manager, instead of a locally-elected board.

“Every school in this country should have a board of management, which gives representation to parents, and other stakeholders, in the governance of the school,” he said.

The 250 second-level schools controlled by the 16 ETBs are governed by boards of management that are sub-committees of the ETBs, but it remains unclear what structures are planned for community national schools. Mr Moriarty said that their distinction from other multi-denominational schools was the facilitation of faith-formation during school hours for pupils whose parents want it.

The issue will be addressed by the minister this afternoon, when she is expected to tell ETBI congress delegates that she believes a board-of-management structure should be in place as soon as possible.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

With reform at second-level high on the agenda at the event in Galway, the outcome of crucial teacher ballots on junior-cycle reform should be known by the time Ms O’Sullivan speaks there, this afternoon. The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) executive has urged 10,000 second-level members to back the deal, but the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland’s (ASTI) central executive council did not recommend how they vote.

A positive outcome would result in continuous professional development (CPD) resuming soon for teachers of English, since the unions’ industrial action prevented them attending the training for the last 18 months. It is the first subject in which students would undergo new assessment methods, beginning either next spring or autumn 2016.

Teachers would conduct and mark project work by their own students in second and third years, while the State Examinations Commission (SEC) would continue to externally correct students’ written Junior Certificate exams.

Meanwhile, ahead of discussions today by the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, on the impasse between the Carlow and Waterford institutes of technology about a merger, the bill to establish the technological university (TU) sector features in the Government’s legislative programme for the new Dáil term.

Ms O’Sullivan’s spokesperson said it was hoped to be passed by Christmas, and it is was intended for two or more IoTs to merge before applying for TU status.


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