Teacher challenges council refusal to recognise her qualifications

Secondary school teacher has brought a High Court challenge against a refusal of the Teaching Council to recognise her as being a qualified post-primary teacher
Teacher challenges council refusal to recognise her qualifications

A secondary school teacher has brought a High Court challenge against a refusal of the Teaching Council to recognise her as being a qualified post-primary teacher. Picture: Getty Images

A secondary school teacher has brought a High Court challenge against a refusal of the Teaching Council to recognise her as being a qualified post-primary teacher.

The action has been brought by Fiona Roche from Thomastown, Caragh, Naas, Co Kildare, who has taught at several post-primary and primary schools since 2002 and been registered with the council since 2006.

She is currently working at Colasite Iosagain Post-Primary in Portarlington, Co Laois. She teaches religion and CSPE, as well as providing guidance hours, and vocational preparation to students.

She also gives the 'Minding Me' wellbeing module classes to pupils.

In 2018 the school's board of management were instructed by the Department of Education that her position would have to be vacated and re-advertised.

She applied for the job.

However in April 2019 she was informed by the Teaching Council that she was "not to be accredited as a registered qualified teacher for the purposes of recognition and employment within the post-primary school system."

The Teaching Council which regulates the teaching profession in Ireland, also held that she did not meet the qualifications required for subject matter recognition as a secondary school teacher in the subjects she submitted, Religion and CSPE.

The council further held she did not meet the criteria required for a professional qualification as a post-primary school teacher and lacked sufficient experience teaching within the sector.

She disputes the decision which she appealed. However the appeal was  unsuccessful. As a result she has brought High Court judicial review proceedings against the Council aimed at quashing the decision.

At the High Court James Lawless BL, for Ms Roche, said that it is their case that the decision making process regarding his client was flawed, and there was a failure by the council to have proper regard to relevant considerations.

Counsel said his client qualified as a Montessori Teacher in the 1990s, and also holds several third level graduate and post-graduate qualifications.

These include a degree in Behavioural Science - Psychology from the American University in Dublin, a Graduate Diploma in Guidance Counselling from the University of Limerick, and Higher Diplomas in Further Education and Theological Studies from NUI Maynoth.

Counsel said that arising out of the council’s decision his client, who worked at several schools in Co Kildare, now fears for her livelihood.

In her action Ms Roche seeks declarations that the council’s decision was entirely without legal basis, is invalid, irrational and flies in the face of common sense.

The application came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who directed that the application for permission to bring the action be made in the presence of the Teaching Council.

The judge agreed to put a temporary stay on the decision from coming into effect, until further order of the court. The matter was adjourned to a date in October.

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