Boards of Management
National schools have had boards of management since 1975. The Education Act, 1998
puts the system on a statutory basis and sets out the responsibilities of the boards. National schools are not obliged to have boards of management. The patron of the school has the right to decide whether or not to have one. In practice, most national schools do have boards.
Under the Education Act, 1998, the patron is obliged "for the purposes of ensuring that a recognised school is managed in a spirit of partnership" to appoint, where practicable, a Board of Management. The composition of the Board of Management is to be agreed between school patrons, national associations of parents, school management organisations, teacher representatives and the Minister.
The board is appointed by the patron. In making appointments, the patron must comply with Ministerial directions about gender balance. If the patron decides that it is not practicable to appoint a board, he/she must give reasons to the parents, teachers, staff and the Minister but he/she cannot be forced to appoint one.
The role and method of operation of boards of management of primary schools was agreed by the Department of Education, the school managers, parents and teachers in 2003. The Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure (pdf), revised in 2011, sets out the principles on which it is based.
Functions of the Board
The board's main function is to manage the school on behalf of the patron and for the benefit of the students and to provide an appropriate education for each student at the school. The role and method of operation of Boards of Management of primary schools was agreed by the Department, the school managers, parents and teachers in 2003. The board must have a procedure for informing parents about its activities – this could include an annual report..
Activities on the Board
Essentially, the board manages the school. Among other things:
- It has responsibility for drawing up the school plan and for ensuring that it is implemented.
- It appoints the principal, the teachers and other staff.
- It must ensure that the school fulfills its functions as set out in the Education Act, 1998.
- It must promote contact between the school, the parents and the community and must facilitate and give all reasonable help to a parents' association in its formation and its activities.
- It has overall responsibility for the school's finances. It is obliged to have comprehensive insurance cover for the school. It must keep proper accounts, which may be audited by the Department of Education and Science and/or the Comptroller and Auditor General. Its annual accounts must be available to the patron and the school community. .
Who is on the Board
The composition of the Board of Management for schools with more than one teacher is
- Two direct nominees of the patron
- Two parents of children enrolled in the school (one mother and one father) elected by the parents
- The principal
- One other teacher elected by the teaching staff.
- Two extra members agreed by the representatives of the patron, teachers and parents.
There are particular rules for Boards of Management for convent and monastery schools in relation to the teacher representatives. If the principal is a Religious, the elected teacher-member must be a lay person and, if the principal is a lay person, it is recommended that the elected teacher-member be a Religious. In one-teacher schools, there is one direct nominee of the patron, one teacher representative, one parent and one extra member proposed by these nominees.There are certain criteria set out for choosing the two community representatives on the Board of Management.
- The people appointed must have a commitment to the ethos of the school. In the case of Catholic schools, they must have an understanding of and commitment to Catholic education as outlined in the Deed of Trust for Catholic Schools
- For Church of Ireland schools, they must be members of that Church; in Presbyterian schools, they must also be church members and in Muslim schools they should be members of the Muslim community in Ireland (in all cases the patron of the school can decide otherwise). For Educate Together Schools they must have a commitment to the ethos of the school.
- They must have skills that are complementary to the board's requirements
- They must be interested in education but normally should not be parents of students currently attending the school or teachers currently on the staff
- In Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna, they are expected to have a good knowledge of the Irish language.
- The need to maintain a gender balance must be a consideration
The patron appoints the Chairman of the Board, usually the local parish priest in the case of Catholic schools.
The Rules set out in detail how the parents' representatives are to be chosen, including the notice to be given to all parents, how replacements are chosen, etc..
Terms of Office of the Board
The term of office for a board is four years and members can hold office only for four years although members are eligible for reappointment when their term of office expires
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