CAIN: Issues - Education. Education in Ireland by Dominic Murray, Alan Smith and Ursula Birthistle, 1997

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Education in Ireland, by Dominic Murray, Alan Smith and Ursula Birthistle

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Text: Dominic Murray, Alan Smith and Ursula Birthistle ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna
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Appendix one

Department of Education

Education Bill, 1997 represents the greatest reform of the education system in over 130 years. This reform has been achieved through ongoing consultation and dialogue with all the partners in the education system.

The Bill benefits all the education partners. For the first time ever, the structure and administration of the education system will be placed on a clear statutory basis. From the enactment of the Bill, all the education partners will know their respective roles, rights, and responsibilities, and those of the other parties.

The Bill provides all the partners in education; teachers, students, parents and school owners, with a clear statutory role in the running and management of all first and second level schools.

The Bill provides for the active promotion of the Irish language; the rights and facilitation of the education needs of students with special needs, and a statutory obligation to provide a diversity of school types including Gaelscoileanna, multi-denominational schools, and denominational schools in a region.

The Bill establishes 10 education regions, each of which will be administered by an education board which will co-ordinate education services in its region. The composition of the education board reflects the Bill's central theme of partnership, through an equal number of teachers, school owners, elected parents, elected representatives, Ministerial nominees, and the wider community. All the partners will have a role in the planning and reporting processes of the education boards.

The Bill ensures that all the education boards will play a key role in the promotion of the Irish language, and undertake an active and dynamic role in the encouragement of the learning of the Irish language in their region. In achieving this, each education board will have a committee to advise on the teaching of the Irish language, and the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht will nominate up to half the membership of the committee.

Each education board with a Gaeltacht area in its region must have a nominee of Udaras na Gaeltachta as a member.

A purpose of the education board is to facilitate co-operation rather than competition between the 3,600 primary and post-primary schools, and 246 schools which operate under the VEC sector. This is particularly important in an era when populations are falling and there is a need for enhanced co-operation between schools to ensure the best use of resources and to provide maximum curriculum choices for pupils.

Each board will publish and make available to the public the national criteria used in the funding of schools and supports.

The Bill clearly states that the first charge on the funds of the board is school funding, as set down by national criteria for school funding.

Side by side with this, the legislation provides that the management of each school will also include parents, teachers and school owners, and they will have an equal right under law to contribute to the governance of their schools. The legislation puts a legal obligation on all schools to establish a board of management.

Schools will be obliged to publish and make clear their admissions and entry policies, parents and students over 16 years of age may finally appeal to the education board against decisions of schools, which materially affect their children's or their own education. The legislation provides for a system of "checks and balances" and a filter mechanism.

The legislation specifically mentions the education needs of students with special needs. Both schools and education boards will now be required by law to ensure the education needs of students with special needs are provided for.

The legislation provides for school planning; a central feature in the planning and quality delivery of education in schools. All the partners, including teachers and students must be consulted on the preparation of the school plan. The partners will have a direct involvement in the preparation and reporting of the education boards education plan.

The Department's Inspectorate will be placed on a statutory footing, with a clear statement of its functions and the necessary powers to carry them out. This will, for the first time, establish their role in supporting schools and teachers in planning and evaluation. There will also be for the first time a statutory system of appeals against evaluations. Teachers and boards of management will now have the right to call for a review of an Inspector's evaluation.

Under the provisions relating to the appointment of teachers, the legislation allows for staff unions and associations to be given a central role working in partnership with the Minister and school owners for any change in the appointment procedures. Any change must be reached through agreement and dialogue between the partners.

The Bill gives parents a statutory entitlement to representation on boards of management and to establish parents' associations in schools. In addition, each school must ensure that parents have access to records relating to their child's education progress.

This legislation gives a statutory underpinning to a new partnership in education; a partnership which reflects the inalienable rights of parents under the Constitution. For the first time ever each partner will have a statutory role in the education system. All those concerned will know, with certainty, their respective roles, functions and rights and those of the other partners.

The legislation provides for the amendment of the 1878 Act to allow religion to become an examination subject.

As a consequence of the legislation, the education system will be more accountable in the future. The Department of Education will move from a culture of administering the system by circular and non-statutory instruments to a statutory system with regulations laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

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ACSAssociation of Community and Comprehensive Schools
ACTAdvisory Committee on Travellers
AHEADAssociation for Higher Education Access and Disability
APIAge Participation Index
ALCEAdult Literacy and Community Education
ASTIAssociation of Secondary Teachers in Ireland
ATLAssociation of Teachers & Lecturers
AUAssessment Unit
AUTAssociation of University Teachers
BTEDGBelfast Travellers Education & Development Group
CAOCentral Applications Office
CCEACouncil for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment
CCMSCouncil for Catholic Maintained Schools
CDUCurriculum Development Unit
CHCultural Heritage
CSECertificate of Secondary Education
CSPECivic, Social and Political Education
DENIDepartment of Education Northern Ireland
DITDublin Institute of Technology
DOEDepartment of the Environment
ELBEducation and Library Board
EMUEducation for Mutual Understanding
ESFEuropean Social Fund
ESSEnvironmental and Social Studies
GaeloiliúintCouncil for All-Irish Education, Northern Ireland
GaelscoileannaIrish language schools/affiliation body for Irish medium schools
GBAGoverning Bodies Association
GCSEGeneral Certificate of Education Advanced (A Level)
GNVQGeneral National Vocational Qualification
HEAHigher Education Authority
IEFIntegrated Education Fund
IEPAIrish Educational Publishers Association
IFUTIrish Federation of University Teachers
INSETIn Service Training
INTOIrish National Teachers Organisation
IPPAIrish Preschool Playgroup Association
IVEAIrish Vocational Education Association
JMBJoint Managerial Body
LCALeaving Certificate Applied Programme
LCVPLeaving Certificate Vocational Programme
LMSLocal Management of Schools
NaionraíIrish speaking or bilingual preschool groups
NARICNational Academic Recognition Information Council
NCCANational Council for Curriculum and Assessment
NCEANational Council for Educational Awards
NCVANational Council for Vocational Awards
NICCNorthern Ireland Curriculum Council
NICIENorthern Ireland Council for Integrated Education
NICLRNorthern Ireland Centre for Learning Resources
NIHECNorthern Ireland Higher Education Council
NIPPANorthern Ireland Preschool Playgroup Association
NISCANorthern Ireland Schools Careers Association
NNEBNational Nursery Education Board
NPCNational Parents Council
NSPCCNational Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OUOpen University
PAGEParents Group for Education
PGCEPost Graduate Certificate in Education
PLCPost Leaving Certificate
RTCRegional Technical College
RTORegional Training Organisation
TEATraining and Employment Agency
TUITeachers Union of Ireland
UCASUniversities and Colleges Admissions System
UTUUlster Teachers Union
VECVocational Education Committee
VPTVocational Preparation and Training
VTOSVocational Training Opportunities Scheme
WEAWorkers Educational Association
WELBWestern Education and Library Board
WISEWhole Ireland Institute of Special Education
YPTYouth Training Programme

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