The appointment of board members to the ERC was to be “announced imminently”, the Department of Education told the Irish Examiner in response to questions on its status seven weeks ago.
Although established in the 1960s, the ERC based at St Patrick’s College in Dublin has been given a statutory role since last September. However, a board has only now been put in place, 11 weeks after Mr Bruton was told doing so would be necessary in order for a chief executive to be appointed.
He has appointed former St Patrick’s College president Pauric Travers as chairman, subject to confirmation after he must appear before the Oireachtas education committee.
The minister has designated former second-level school principal Denise Burns as deputy chair, with other board positions going to former ERC research associate Jude Cosgrove, former Department of Education assistant chief inspector Edward Murtagh, and Boston College education research professor Michael Martin.
The ERC carries out research for the Department of Education and other public bodies. Its work includes the operation of various international testing systems in Ireland, including the OECD’s PISA tests of 15-year-olds on reading, maths, and science every three years.
It is also designing new standardised reading and maths tests for primary pupils, tests which are in need of speedy revision in light of the earlier-than-expected improvements being attributed to actions under the 2011 National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy.
The Irish Examiner put queries to the Department of Education in June about this and several other vacancies.
“Work is ongoing within the department, to progress via the minister, the appointments to the board of the ERC, as well as three appointments to the Teaching Council. It is expected the respective appointees will be announced imminently,” it said on June 2.
There were two vacancies for board members on the 37-member Teaching Council a month later, according to a written reply from Mr Bruton to Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne.
There were also four board positions waiting to be filled on the Irish Research Council and the same number at the Comhairle Bhéaloidas Éireann, which oversees the National Folklore Collection.