Schools to publish complaints under new charter

Schools will now have to publish complaints — including details of how they were resolved — as part of a new parent and student charter.

All schools will also have to publish a financial statement to let parents know how their voluntary contributions are spent; and will be required to consult more with parents and teachers. The measures, which are part of the Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill, were signed off on by Cabinet yesterday.

The new laws will require every school to consult with parents and students and publish a Parent and Student Charter, which will take in the areas of school uniforms; the school’s complaints systems; and costs which are placed on parents.

As part of the charter, it will be mandatory for schools to work to avoid costs acting as a barrier. They will also have to give information on school performance, management, policies and extracurricular activities.

Schools will be expected to provide a “fair and accessible” mechanism for resolving complaints, including through mediation. They will also be required to publish the number of complaints made; the reasons for the outcome in each case; and how the outcome was reached by the school.

Separately, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan brought forward measures to Cabinet which will allow asylum seekers look for work from February. The proposals are a temporary measure until an EU directive comes into force in June.

The move, to allow people living in direct provision gain employment, came after a Supreme Court judgment last May which found the absolute ban on work was unconstitutional “in principle”.

Speaking after Cabinet, Mr Flanagan said: “Last November, the Government decided that we would give effect to the Supreme Court judgment by opting into the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive and aligning our position with EU norms and standards.”

While he said he is pleased the approval process is nearing completion, it will not be possible to have all stages completed by February 9.

He added: “For this reason, I proposed temporary measures to Government today to bring greater clarity to applicants who wish to access the workforce during this interim period.”

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