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Parents & Community

Introduction

In line with the provisions of the Irish Constitution, the Board of Management acknowledges that parents are the primary educators of their children. The Board of Management will strive to ensure that parents find the school an open, welcoming, inclusive place. There should be a parents' association in each school.

Parents' associations may choose to affiliate to the National Parents' Council and should be encouraged to do so. The National Parents' Council offers training for Parent Associations on their role and will deliver this training in their school. (NPC Primary Head Office is at 12 Marlborough Court, Dublin 1. Tel 01-887 4034.)

In a spirit of collaboration and trust, parents will recognise that there are areas of school activity that belong to the professional work of the teachers. There will also be a recognition that certain areas of responsibility (e.g. finance) belong to the Board of Management.

A parents' association is entitled to raise funds for the administration and activities of the association without obtaining approval from the Board of Management. Full accounts must be maintained and presented at the parents' association AGM, in accordance with the rules of the association. The parents' association should consult with the Board about fundraising for the school or school projects. The approval of the Board is needed before these funds are raised. The expenditure of these funds is by the Board of Management, in consultation with the parents' association. The Board prepares a total account of income and expenditure at the end of each school year and this is available to parents. (Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure, Clause 21)

Any funds raised must be used for the purpose/s for which the money was collected. If, in exceptional circumstances, it becomes unnecessary for the Board to use all the funds collected for the purpose specified, the Board will communicate this to the parents' association and, where appropriate, the local community. In any event, the funds must be used for the school. The change of purpose for which the funds are used will be decided by the Board in consultation with the parents' association committee.

The Board, in consultation with the school principal teacher, should ensure that arrangements are made for parents to meet class teachers on a regular basis. Parents will naturally be concerned about the welfare and progress of their own children. They are entitled to have access to records kept by the school relating to the progress and education of their child. (Education Act 1998 Section 9(g)).

If a parent has a particular difficulty with the school, the matter should be referred in the first instance to the class teacher and subsequently, if necessary, to the principal teacher. The matter should be dealt with informally, if possible. If it becomes necessary to deal more formally with the matter, the agreed complaints procedure should be followed.

Anonymous complaints about the teachers or about any matter connected with the school will not be considered by the Board of Management. Individual members of the Board should not agree to bring anonymous verbal messages to the Board of Management meeting. Board members should advise people who approach them with complaints or requests that the matter should be referred to the principal teacher or to the chairperson of the Board, as appropriate.

Parents as Partners

The school is regarded as an extension of the home and an active partnership between parents and teachers makes this a reality, especially in the eyes of the young child, who is the central figure. Research shows that parental interests and attitudes to school, to books and to education are the single most important influence on a child’s learning. (from Parents’ Associations – Making Them Work, NPC-P)) In addition to section 26 Education Act 1998, the relationship between parents and the school is referenced in several other sections of the 1998 Act. In particular, it should be noted that the school is required to:

• Promote the moral, spiritual, social and personal development of students and provide health education for them, in consultation with their parents, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school. Section 9(d).

• Ensure that parents of a student, or in the case of a student who has reached the age of 18 years, the student, have access in the prescribed manner to records kept by that school relating to the progress of that student in her/his education. Section 9(g).

• Manage the school on behalf of the Patron and for the benefit of the students and their parents and to provide or cause to be provided an appropriate education for each student at the school for which that Board has responsibility. Section 15(i).

• Publish, in such manner as the Board with the agreement of the Patron considers appropriate, the policy of the school concerning admission to and participation in the school, including the policy of the school relating to the expulsion and suspension of students and admission to and participation by students with disabilities or who have other special educational needs, and ensure that as regards that policy, principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents’ choice are respected and such directions as may be made from time to time by the Minister, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school and the constitutional rights of all persons concerned, are complied with. Section 15(2) (d).

• Make available to the parents the annual certified accounts of monies received from the Oireachtas and the expenditure of same. Section 18. A Board shall establish procedures for informing the parents of students in the school of matters relating to the operation and performance of the school and such procedures may include the publication and circulation to parents, teachers and other staff and a student council where one has been established of a report on the operation and performance of the school in any school year, with particular reference to the achievement of objectives as set out in the school plan provided for under section 21. Section 20.

• The school plan shall be prepared in accordance with such directions, including directions relating to consultation with the parents, the patron, staff and students of the school, as may be given from time to time by the Minister in relation to school plans. Section 21.

• A Board shall make arrangements for the circulation of copies of the school plan to the patron, parents, teachers and other staff of the school. Section 21(4).

Partnership Between the Parents' Association and the Board of Management 

Parents are partners and stakeholders in the school. They can and should contribute to the school plan, school policies and pupils’ curriculum experiences. Research shows that parental involvement in their children’s education positively affects the child’s performance at school. The impact is the same regardless of ethnic background, family income, maternal level of education, or child’s gender. Both the Parent Association and the Board of Management have the best interest of the child as a common goal in the running of the school. To fulfil their duties as set out in the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management and the Parent Association need to have effective ways of communicating with one another. Ways of communicating between the Parent Association and the Board of Management may include:

• An annual meeting, early in each school year, with a jointly planned agenda, to discuss ideas for working together, to share information and to exchange views.

• A social event where parents, teachers, and Board of Management members can meet and get to know one another.

• The Parent Association’s committee meeting agenda may include a report [when appropriate] from the parents’ nominees on the Board of Management. 

• Meetings between the Chairperson of the Board of Management and the Chairperson of the Parent Association committee. The parent nominees elected by parents are not on the Board to represent parents but are there to manage the school. While they may bring a parental perspective to all meetings, their primary function is the managing of the school.