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Frequently Asked Questions

This is a list of Frequently Asked Questions, which we hope will assist schools in getting answers to some of their queries without having to contact someone in the national office. Many of the questions we get in the office have been answered with other schools, and we hope that this FAQ will help to share the problem-solving experiences of all schools in the sector.

The FAQs are organised into the following sections:

Accommodation

Board of Management

Child Protection

Disciplinary Procedures (staff)

Employment

Enrolment

Ethos

Health and Safety

Leave

Miscellaneous

Parental Complaints

Recruitment

Staff Grievances

Suspension/Explusion of Pupils

Teaching Council

 

Accommodation

Q : Accommodation; Who owns or leases the school building?

A : 

Generally, the patron owns or leases the building, while the board of management has responsibility for the school-related activities which happen on the premises. For this reason, any proposals regarding the school building and grounds – such as alteration or extension – require the prior written approval of the patron.  

Q : Accommodation; Does the school need insurance?

A : 

Schools are obliged to have adequate insurance cover in place for Public Liability, Employers Liability and content insurances.  The majority of Educate Together schools are part of a group insurance scheme. The broker for this scheme is O’Driscoll O’Neill and the policy is with Allianz Insurance. 

Q : Accommodation; What is Relevant Contracts Tax?

A : 

Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT) is a withholding tax system that operates in the construction, forestry and meat processing sectors.  Where a principal contractor in those sectors makes a ‘relevant payment’ to a subcontractor, RCT must be operated.  There must be a contractor making a relevant payment before RCT can apply.  
Schools must report Relevant Contracts Tax and VAT appropriately to Revenue or the board could end up in real financial difficulty.  It is very important that the board understands the responsibilities involved so you are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with the responsibilities involved if your board was not represented at the training.

Board of Management

Q : Board of Management; What are the responsibilities of a Board of Management?

A : 

What are the responsibilities of a Board of Management?
 
The Board of Management shall:
Manage the school
On behalf of the patron
For the benefit of students
Provide an appropriate education for students
Appoint school staff
Q : Board of Management; What are the responsibilities of a Patron?

A : 

The Patron shall:
 Establish a board of management
 Report on operation of board
 Dissolution of board by patron:
 Consent of Minister
 Functions of a board are not being effectively discharged

Q : Board of Management; What are the responsibilities of the Minister?

A : 

The Minister shall:
Ensure availability of level and quality of education appropriate to the needs and abilities of that person 
Determine national education policy 
Plan and co-ordinate provision of education 
Provide funding to schools 
Monitor and assess the education provided by schools 
Lease land or buildings for the purposes of establishing schools 
Provide support services to schools teaching through Irish 
Prescribe the curriculum 
School year 
Q : Board of Management; Who can serve on a Board of Management?

A : 

For schools having a recognised staff of more than one teacher the Board of Management shall comprise the following:
(i) Two direct nominees of the Patron.   
(ii) Two parents of children enrolled in the school (one being a mother, the other a father, elected by the general body of parents of children enrolled in the school).  
(iii)  The Principal Teacher (or Acting Principal Teacher) of the school. 
(iv) One other serving teacher on the staff of the school, elected by vote of the teaching staff which includes the Principal Teacher. 
(v) Two extra members proposed by those nominees, described at (i) - (iv) above, acting in accordance with the process set out at Appendix C of Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure.  
Q : Board of Management; Where can I find more information on the roles and responsibilities of a Board of Management?

A : 

See the Department of Education and Skills publication Boards of Management of National Schools: Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure 2011 and the Educate Together Board of Management training module.

Q : Board of Management; The principal is on leave for the last few weeks. Should the Acting Principal attend the BOM meeting in her place?

A : 

Yes.  For all purposes the Acting Principal is the 'Principal' until the principal comes back from leave. 

Q : Board of Management; Our BOM Chairperson is going on holidays for a month this summer and won't be available for the recruitment process. Can another BOM member act as Chairperson in their absence?

A : 

You need to inform the patron (Educate Together for schools with ET as patron) of the change and the suggested replacement. If ET approves the change over the process is straightforward. Sarah Williams, the Volunteer Officer with Educate Together, will inform the DES of the change in personnel. You will need to inform ET of the dates that the new Chair will be in place. The same chairperson needs to be in place for the entire duration of the recruitment process- from setting of the criteria and shortlisting to ratification of the appointment at Board level. This chairperson will also be chairperson of the board for any other school business that occurs during the time period. Remember to notify Educate Together when the usual Chairperson resumes business so that we can inform the DES. The contact person for this is Sarah Williams - sarah.williams@educatetogether.ie.

Q : Board of Management; How long after a principal goes on leave before the Acting principal should take up a role on the board of management?

A : 

The Acting Principal should take up the role on the board of management immediately.

Q : Board of Management; Can the school secretary be a nominated signatory for cheques on behalf of the board/school?

A : 

No, authorised signatories must be members of the board of management. 

Child Protection

Q : Child Protection; What is the responsibility of the Board of Management in regard to the protection and welfare of children?

A : 

In 2011, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs produced Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. In this document, the responsibility of Boards of Management is clearly set out.
It is the responsibility of the Board of Management of each school:
(i)    to have clear procedures, which teachers and other school staff must follow where they suspect, or are alerted to, possible child abuse or neglect, including where a child discloses abuse or neglect;
(ii)    to designate a senior member of staff to have specific responsibility for child protection (see Chapter 3, Section 3.3 for role of designated liaison persons). In larger schools, it may be necessary that the role be designated to other staff to ensure timely sharing of concerns, in which case organisational accountability must be kept;
(iii)    to monitor the progress of children considered to be at risk;
(iv)    to contribute to the prevention of child abuse or neglect through curricular provision;
(v)    to provide or access in-service training for teachers and members of the Board of Management to ensure that they have a good working knowledge of child protection issues and procedures;
(vi)    to have clear written procedures in place concerning action to be taken where allegations are received against school employees.
Q : Child Protection; Do all staff need Garda Vetting to commence working in a school?

A : 

All efforts should be made to ensure that staff do not commence work in the school without Garda Vetting. It is good practice for a school to set up a panel of substitute staff that have already been vetted for use in the event of casual or emergency vacancies.  Alternatively, the school should ensure that any person who has not yet been vetted does not have unsupervised access to children until Garda Vetting has been completed.  
It is essential to stress that school Boards of Management must make their own decisions in relation to the suitability or otherwise of prospective employees or volunteers for employment. The fact that a person has been vetted by the GCVU does not mean that the person is suitable and does not remove the necessity for the Board to thoroughly check the background and references of a candidate.
Q : Child Protection; Can our school write its own child protection policy?

A : 

A school's child protection policy must conform to the Department of Education's Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools. This document includes a template Child Protection Policy for schools in Appendix 1. 

Q : Child Protection; I am a member of a Board of Management. Where can I access child protection training?

A : 

All members of boards of management are entitled to access a training course and a whole host of resources on this topic which are available on our online training site.

Q : Child Protection; How does a school know which parent is correct when it comes to access and involvement in child's life at school?

A : 

If a solicitor’s letter is presented from one of the parents concerned ask for the legal basis of the letter to be explained. If it mentions a court order ask for a copy and then abide by this ruling. It is not up to the school to act as mediator or go between in this situation. The school should abide by the court order/agreement presented. 

Q : Child Protection; An allegation of physical abuse has been made against a teacher in our school. What should I do?

A : 

The first thing to do is to seek advice from the HSE; you can do so anonymously at first without giving any details. If they recommend that a report be made then make a full report of the incident. Either way please inform the board of management. It will be the responsibility of the Chairperson to deal with the staff member.  Please ask the HSE whether or not the staff member should be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.  

Disciplinary Procedures (staff)

Q : Disciplinary Procedures (staff); Where can I find information on disciplinary procedures for principals and teachers?

A : 

In 2009 the Department of Education and Skills, in consultation with Educate Together and the other primary management bodies, published revised procedures in relation to professional competence and general disciplinary matters for teachers.
The procedures, available for both principals and teachers, are divided into two sections to be utilised in the appropriate circumstances:
    Procedures relating to professional competence issues
    Procedures relating to work, conduct and matters other than professional competence
The procedures are available on the Department of Education and Skills website as Circular 60/2009.
Q : Disciplinary Procedures (staff); Where can I find information on disciplinary procedures for special needs assistants?

A : 

Disciplinary and Grievance procedures for Special Needs Assistants were published in 2011 and are available on the Department of Education and Skills website as Circular 72/2011.

Q : Disciplinary Procedures (staff); Where can I find information on disciplinary procedures for other ancillary staff?

A : 

There are no Department of Education and Skills published disciplinary procedures for other school staff available. Boards of Management should consult the staff member's contract and follow the procedures outlined there. 

Employment

Q : Employment/Staffing; Career Breaks (Teachers); What is a career break?

A : 

A career break is designed to provide eligible primary teachers with an opportunity to obtain a break from normal duties for the purposes of care of children, other family matters, study, travel etc.  
You can find further information in Department publication 'Career Breaks, Job Sharing, Teacher Exchange & Carers Leave for Primary Teachers'.
Q : Employment/Staffing; Career Breaks (Teachers); How long can a career break last?

A : 

A career break consists of special leave without pay for a period of not less than 1 school year and not more than 5 school years. A teacher may engage in one career break spread over five years; or may wish to participate, at varying intervals, in separate arrangements subject to Board of Management approval. A career break commences on the 1st September and ends on the 31st August of a school year. 

Q : Employment/Staffing; Career Breaks (Teachers); What is the application procedure for a career break?

A : 

An application must be made to the Board of Management, on the official application form before the 1st March of the year in which a teacher proposes to take the career break – an Application Form for Career Break is contained in Appendix A of the 'Career Breaks, Job Sharing, Teacher Exchange & Carers Leave for Primary Teachers' booklet.  

Q : Employment/Staffing; Career Breaks (SNAs); Can Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) apply for a career break?

A : 

The scope of the Career Break Scheme for SNAs is limited to special needs assistants in posts wholly funded out of monies provided by the Oireachtas.  For further information, see Department of Education Circular Letter 22/2012 'Career Break Scheme for Special Needs Assistants in Recognised Primary and Post-Primary Schools'.

Q : Employment/Staffing; Career Breaks (SNAs); Do Boards of Management need a policy for SNA career breaks?

A : 

Each employer, in consultation with special needs assistant staff, shall develop and maintain a policy statement specific to the needs of the school in relation to the approval of career breaks.  In drawing up this policy, the welfare and educational needs of the pupils shall take precedence over all other considerations. The sole discretion as whether to grant an application for a career break rests with the employer. 

Q : Employment/Staffing; Career Breaks (SNAs); Who is eligible for an SNA career break?

A : 

A special needs assistant may apply for a career break where he/she will have satisfactorily completed, at the end of the school year in which they are applying, 12 months of continuous service with the current employer.  

Q : Employment/Staffing; Career Breaks (SNAs); What is the application procedure for an SNA seeking a career break?

A : 

A special needs assistant seeking a career break must submit a written application to the employer not later than the 1st March of the school year prior to that in which he/she proposes to commence/continue the career break. The application must provide clear details of the exact purpose of the career break. 
A late application may be considered by the employer in exceptional circumstances.  
 
Q : Employment/Staffing; Job Sharing; What is job sharing?

A : 

When first introduced, the job sharing scheme could only involve two permanent teachers, both based in the same school, sharing a full-time post on a 50:50 basis. A scheme (known as inter school job sharing) now also exists which allows permanent teachers in two different schools to job share.  You can find further information in the Department publication 'Career Breaks, Job Sharing, Teacher Exchange & Carers Leave for Primary Teachers'.

Q : Employment/Staffing; Job Sharing; Do Boards of Management need a Policy Statement for job sharing?

A : 

Boards of Management are required to develop a policy on job sharing specific to the needs of the particular school so that staff may be fully aware of the Board's position in this matter. 
In framing a policy position on job sharing, Boards are required to ensure that the welfare and educational needs of pupils take precedence over all other considerations. 
Q : Employment/Staffing; Job Sharing; Who is eligible to take part in the job sharing scheme?

A : 

All permanent teachers within a school with two years service in a permanent capacity, are eligible to apply for job sharing with the exclusion of Principals (the importance of the leadership function of a Principal precludes this role from being shared), Home School Liaison teachers, Supply teachers and teachers on probation. However, a Supply teacher may move temporarily from the Supply Scheme to job share with another teacher. A permanent teacher cannot job share with a temporary teacher. In addition teachers who are on currently on secondment or are going on secondment cannot job share for the duration of the secondment. 

Q : Employment/Staffing; Job Sharing; What is the application procedure for the job sharing scheme?

A : 

It is a matter for teachers to find colleagues with whom they may wish to enter into a job sharing arrangement. Applications must be made in writing to the Board of Management of the school (or schools in the case of inter school job sharing). Such applications must be made to the Board(s) before the 1st March of the year in which they propose to job share.  If an extension is required, the teacher must apply annually to the Board(s) of Management on the official application form. 

Q : Employment/Staffing; Are children in the ASD unit counted as mainstream for the purposes of staffing? E.g. to maintain the retention figure of 421 in a P+16 school are the 12 children in the ASD counted?

A : 

Yes, all pupils are counted to achieve the figure, both mainstream and special class.

Q : Employment/Staffing; Is it possible to cut the hours of an ancillary staff member, who is on maternity leave, due to budget concerns?

A : 

Citizens Advice have advised that it is illegal to change terms and conditions for 26 weeks following maternity leave unless school can demonstrate that they do not have the funds to pay. 

Q : Employment/Staffing; The principal and a staff member have had a disagreement. Staff member is now on sick leave and wishes to speak with the Chairperson directly. What should I do?

A : 

Have a look at the staff member’s contract. If a grievance procedure is mentioned in the contract them advise the staff member that this should be followed in the case of any difficulty. 

Enrolment

Q : Enrolment; Sibling places; My child is attending an Educate Together school - will my younger children definitely have places at the same school?

A : 

Each school has their own admissions policy.  You can access this either on the school’s website or through the school reception.  If you wish to take the matter further, you can write to the Board of Management to discuss your situation.  Additionally, an appeal may be made to the Secretary General of the Department of Education & Skills in respect of a decision by a board of management or a person acting on behalf of a board of management to refuse to enrol a student in the school using Section 29 - Appeal against Permanent Exclusion, Suspension or Refusal to Enrol. 

Q : Enrolment; My child has missed the cut-off age date for enrolment by only a short time. Are they eligible to enrol this year?

A : 

Each school has their own admissions policy.  You can access this either on the school’s website or through the school reception.  If you wish to take the matter further, you can write to the Board of Management to discuss your situation.  Additionally, an appeal may be made to the Secretary General of the Department of Education & Skills in respect of a decision by a board of management or a person acting on behalf of a board of management to refuse to enrol a student in the school using Section 29 - Appeal against Permanent Exclusion, Suspension or Refusal to Enrol.

Q : Enrolment; We offered a place to a child who subsequently was unable to take it for health reasons. Can the place be kept open for the following year if the child is enrolled in education through the hospital?

A : 

Unfortunately you can’t keep a place for a child if he is enrolled in another school.  You will have to see if a place exists in the class at the end of the school year.  

Ethos

Q : Ethos; I am displeased that my child is studying religion in school. Isn’t this against the Educate Together ethos?

A : 

Educate Together schools are multi-denominational in character, and as part of the Learn Together ethical curriculum schools may choose to study various world religions in an inclusive and un-biased manner.

Health and Safety

Q : Health and Safety; Is there a requirement to have a H&S officer in the school?

A : 

No.  As a board, as a corporate entity, you are responsible for Health and Safety.  You may decide to assign a member of the board to this area but are not obliged to.  You must have a Health and Safety Policy/Statement.  You should also have a Health and Safety Representative on the staff.  

Leave

Q : Leave; Maternity and Adoptive Leave; What are the recent amendments to Maternity and Adoptive Leave (2013)?

A : 

Days in lieu available under the previous circulars, 0011/2011 - Maternity Protection Entitlements for Registered Teachers and SNA 13/05 - Maternity/Adoptive and Parental Leave for Special Needs Assistants will not be accrued on and from 1st May 2013, but any remaining leave in lieu on that date may be taken after it.  Full details can be found in Circular 0022/2013 'Maternity and Adoptive Leave'

Q : Leave; Maternity Leave (Teachers); What is the duration of maternity leave for teachers?

A : 

All pregnant teachers, who give birth to a live child, or who reach their 24th week of pregnancy, are entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave and 16 weeks additional unpaid maternity leave. 
Maternity leave will ordinarily begin on such day as the pregnant teacher selects, unless medically certified that the leave should commence on a particular date. However, the commencement date must not be later than 2 weeks before the end of the week of the baby’s expected birth and four weeks must be taken after the end of the week of the baby’s birth.  For these purposes, Saturday is regarded as the end of a week.
Q : Leave; Maternity Leave (Teachers); Is a teacher entitled to any additional leave after taking maternity leave?

A : 

Commencing on the day immediately following completion of maternity leave, a teacher has the option to take a maximum of 16 consecutive weeks statutory additional unpaid maternity leave.  
A teacher who, on completion of maternity leave and statutory additional unpaid maternity leave may apply for non-statutory additional unpaid maternity leave to the end of the school year.  
This leave type is not a statutory entitlement and it is subject to obtaining written sanction from the employer at least six weeks in advance of an intention to avail of this leave. 
Q : Leave; Maternity Leave (Teachers); What is the application procedure for teachers seeking maternity leave?

A : 

Application for maternity leave both paid and unpaid should be made by teachers to their employer at least 6 weeks in advance of commencement of the leave on the prescribed application form which is attached at Appendix A of Circular 009/2013 - Maternity Protection Entitlements for Registered Teachers.
The applicant is responsible for completion of the MB10 Form and should ensure that the school completes the employer’s portion before forwarding to the DSP at least 6 weeks prior to the start date. The MB10 form should NOT be sent to the Department of Education and Skills.  
Q : Leave; Maternity Leave (SNAs); What is the duration of maternity leave for Special Needs Assistants?

A : 

All pregnant special needs assistants, who give birth to a live child, or who reach their 24th week of pregnancy, are entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave and 16 weeks additional unpaid maternity leave. 
Maternity leave will ordinarily begin on such day as the pregnant special needs assistant selects, unless medically certified that the leave should commence on a particular date.  
However, the commencement date must not be later than 2 weeks before the end of the week of the baby’s expected birth and 4 weeks must be taken after the end of the baby’s birth. For these purposes, Saturday is regarded as the end of a week.
Q : Leave; Maternity Leave (SNAs); Is a Special Needs Assistant entitled to any additional leave after taking maternity leave?

A : 

Commencing on the day immediately following completion of maternity leave, a special needs assistant has the option to take a maximum of 16 consecutive weeks statutory additional unpaid maternity leave.  

Q : Leave; Maternity Leave (SNAs); What is the application procedure for SNAs seeking maternity leave?

A : 

Application for maternity leave both paid and unpaid should be made by special needs assistants to their employer at least 6 weeks in advance of commencement of the leave on the prescribed application form which is attached at Appendix A of Circular 0017-2013 - 'Maternity Protection Entitlements for SNAs'.
The applicant is responsible for completion of the MB10 form and should ensure that the school completes the employer’s portion before forwarding to the DSP at least 6 weeks prior to the start date. The MB10 form should NOT be sent to the Department of Education and Skills.  
Q : Leave; Parental Leave; Am I entitled to my salary while on parental leave?

A : 

Parental leave is a period of unpaid leave.  However, a teacher on parental leave is deemed for all purposes to be in employment at that time with the exception of remuneration and superannuation. The absence is therefore fully reckonable for all other purposes including seniority, access to the redeployment panel, progression on the incremental salary scale and notification regarding posts of responsibility. 

Q : Leave; Parental Leave; Who is entitled to take parental leave?

A : 

A teacher is entitled to 18 weeks parental leave in respect of each child up to the age of 13 years or the age of 16 years in the case of a child with a disability and/or long-term illness.  A teacher may be eligible for parental leave where s/he has completed one year’s continuous employment with the employer from whose employment the leave is taken. This requirement is waived in the case of a teacher compulsorily redeployed into a school provided that s/he has completed one year’s continuous employment in her/his former school before being redeployed.

Q : Leave; Parental Leave; How do I apply for parental leave?

A : 

Application for parental leave should be made by a teacher to his/her employer at least 6 weeks in advance of commencement of the leave on the prescribed application form with is attached at Appendix A of Circular 0026/2013.

Q : Leave; Parental Leave; I have previously taken 14 weeks of parental leave. Under the new Circular, can I now take an additional 4 weeks?

A : 

Applicants who have taken 14 weeks previously may now apply for an additional 4 weeks provided they still meet the entitlement criteria.

Q : Leave; Parental Leave; Do I have to take all 18 weeks of parental leave at once?

A : 

A teacher may avail of parental leave in blocks of at least 1 week up to a maximum of 18 weeks. Please note each period of parental leave must be a minimum duration of 7 consecutive days including weekends, school closures and days on which a teacher is not timetabled for attendance occurring within that period.

Q : Leave; Parental Leave; I need to accompany my child to hospital appointments. Can I take parental leave for individual days?

A : 

In certain circumstances a teacher may avail of parental leave in the form of individual days where a child has particular medical problems that require the attendance of a parent with the child at a hospital, clinic or therapeutic appointment on a regular basis.  In such circumstances certification from the hospital or clinic in respect of the absence must be submitted to the employer and retained on the teacher’s personnel file.

Q : Leave; Parental Leave; I have more than one child. Am I entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave per child?

A : 

Parental leave for more than 1 child in any period of 12 months may not exceed 18 weeks without the consent of the employer except in the case of multiple births (twins, triplets, etc) where a teacher has a statutory entitlement to take more than 18 weeks in any 12 month period.  
 
Q : Leave; Parental Leave; Can I transfer any portion of my leave to my partner?

A : 

Subject to the approval of the employer, it is possible to transfer 14 weeks out of the 18 week parental leave entitlement to another parent of a relevant child, provided the other parent is employed with the same employer.  The remaining 4 weeks must be retained by the parent with whom the entitlement originates.  This means where both parents are in one school one parent may avail of 32 weeks and the other 4 weeks.

Q : Leave; Carer's Leave; What is Carer's Leave?

A : 

Carer's Leave is the term used to describe temporary unpaid leave from work to personally provide full-time care and attention for a person who is medically certified as being in need of such care. You can find further information in the Department publication 'Career Breaks, Job Sharing, Teacher Exchange & Carers Leave for Primary Teachers'.
Q : Leave; Carer's Leave; Who is eligible for Carer's Leave?

A : 

To be eligible for Carer's Leave a teacher must have worked for a period of one continuous year with the Board of Management.  This condition may be waived only in exceptional circumstances and subject to the educational and welfare needs of the pupils. 

Q : Leave; Carer's Leave; What is the application procedure for Carer's Leave?

A : 

The Department has prepared a standard Application Form, which must be used when a teacher is applying for Carer's Leave.  This form is available on the Department website on request from the Primary Payments Section of the Department. This must contain a statement that an application for a decision that the person to be cared for is in need of full-time care and attention has been made to the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Miscellaneous

Q : Miscellaneous; When using DVDs in school do we have to pay the MPLC license?

A : 

Schools can gain an exemption from the license if they write to MPLC and inform them that they do not play movies or copyrighted DVDs on the premises (check back of DVD: if it says 'suitable for home viewing' then you require permission to play in a classroom).  Some schools never play films etc so do not need this license. There is an educational exemption for material that is shown as part of the curriculum: not just something related but something that is actually curricular material.   This law would be enforced by someone complaining to MPLC about unlawful use.  The school would get in trouble then.  The costs are 1-50 pupils= €40 plus VAT; 51-300 pupils = €70 plus VAT, with cheaper prices for small schools. 

Parental Complaints

Q : Parental Complaints; When can complaints about teachers be investigated formally by Boards of Management?

A : 

Only those complaints about teachers which are written and signed by parents/guardians of pupils may be investigated formally by the board of management, except where those complaints are deemed by the Board to be: 
i. on matters of professional competence and which are to be referred to the Department of Education; 
ii. frivolous or vexatious complaints and complaints which do not impinge on the work of a teacher in a school; 
iii. complaints in which either party has recourse to law or to another existing procedure. 
Unwritten complaints not in the above categories may be processed informally. Only those complaints about teachers which are written and signed by parents/guardians of pupils may be investigated formally by the board of management, except where those complaints are deemed by the Board to be: 
i. on matters of professional competence and which are to be referred to the Department of Education; 
ii. frivolous or vexatious complaints and complaints which do not impinge on the work of a teacher in a school; 
iii. complaints in which either party has recourse to law or to another existing procedure. 
Unwritten complaints not in the above categories may be processed informally. 
Q : Parental Complaints; What should the first actions be of a parent/guardian wishing to make a complaint?

A : 

A parent/guardian who wishes to make a complaint should, unless there are local arrangements to the contrary, approach the class teacher with a view to resolving the complaint.  Where the parent/guardian is unable to resolve the complaint with the class teacher she/he should approach the principal teacher with a view to resolving it.  If the complaint is still unresolved the parent/guardian should raise the matter informally with the chairperson of the board of management with a view to resolving it. 

Q : Parental Complaints; According to the parental complaints procedure when should a complaint be put in writing to the Chairperson of the Board of Management?

A : 

If the complaint is still unresolved after the parent/guardian has spoken with both the class teacher, principal teacher and the Chairperson of the Board and the parent/guardian wishes to pursue the matter further, she/he should lodge the complaint in writing with the chairperson of the board of management.  The chairperson should bring the precise nature of the written complaint to the notice of the teacher and seek to resolve the matter between the parties within 5 days of receipt of the written complaint. 

Q : Parental Complaints; What happens if the complaint cannot be resolved through informal channels?

A : 

If the complaint is not resolved informally, the chairperson should, subject to the general authorisation of the Board and except in those cases where the chairperson deems the particular authorisation of the Board to be required: 
(a) supply the teacher with a copy of the written complaint; and 
(b) arrange a meeting with the teacher and, where applicable, the principal teacher with a view to resolving the complaint. Such a meeting should take place within 10 days of receipt of the written complaint. 
Q : Parental Complaints; a group of parents have written to the board of management seeking a meeting regarding the behaviour of a child in a senior class. What action should the Board take?

A : 

Board are not in a position to meet with a group of parents relating to another child.  The board will meet with individual parents in relation to worries they have relating to their own child.  Other children will not be discussed.  The patron does not have a role in this process and if a parent wishes to make a complaint then they must use the complaints procedure.  At the conclusion of this process if the parent is still unhappy they can address their concerns to the patron who will ask the board of management for a report on how the complaint was handled.  

Recruitment

Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; Do positions covering maternity leave have to be advertised?

A : 

All vacancies of 24 weeks or more shall be notified to all teaching staff of the school and shall be advertised on one of the websites as determined by the management bodies from time to time or in at least one national daily newspaper.  
Boards are advised to consult their management body for details of the current recommended websites for advertisement of posts.  For anticipated vacancies of less than 24 weeks duration the school is obliged to appoint a qualified and registered teacher from a list of such teachers maintained by the school or from a national service such as TextaSub or SubSearch.  The Board of Management should refer to current department circulars in relation to the qualification and registration requirements for appointment to teaching posts. 
Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; Should applicants submit both a CV and an application form?

A : 

No.  Applicants should not be required to submit both a curriculum vitae and an application form.

Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; What is the difference between a redeployment panel and an internal panel set up following an appointment process?

A : 

There are two types of redeployment panels.  The first comprises of either permanent/CID holding teachers for redeployment to permanent vacancies in other schools. Once this panel clears the supplementary redeployment is released.  This is made up of fixed term teachers who have accrued enough service to be entitled to be placed on a redeployment panel and be eligible for permanent positions.  Once these panels are clear (no teachers remaining) schools are allowed to advertise their remaining teaching posts.    The other type of ‘panel’ is an internal panel that is is comprised of candidates for a permanent or fixed-term post who have not been chosen to fill the vacant post.  These candidates are ranked in order of merit and may then be future posts equal to or of shorter duration than that interviewed for during a four month period after an appointment process for teachers.

Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; In what circumstances can a post be filled from an internal panel?

A : 

(i)   Permanent vacancies may not be filled from a panel established following interviews for a fixed term post. 
(ii) Where interviews for a permanent or fixed-term post have taken place then such an internal panel may be used to fill fixed-term and substitute vacancies equal to or of shorter duration than that interviewed for.  
(iii)Where such an internal panel is compiled it shall be applicable to any vacancies filled within four months of the date on which the Board approves the successful candidate and the order of merit of the qualifying candidates, subject to the prior approval of the patron.  
Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; Can an applicant apply electronically?

A : 

Yes, if the Board of Management chooses to accept electronic (e-mail) applications.
 
Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; Can a school email address be used for the application process?

A : 

A separate e-mail account should be set up for the application process.  
Where the school does not have access to a distinct e-mail address then a service such as g-mail may be used e.g. Schoolnameapplications@gmail.com  
Access to this account should be restricted to members of the selection board only.   Where the same e-mail address is utilised for subsequent competitions the passwords should be changed to ensure that only the new selection board has access to the applications.  Only those applications received between the advertisement date and the closing date of the competition may be assessed by the selection board. 
All e-mail applications should be deleted following completion of a selection process.  All personal data should be held securely, only for as long as is relevant, and in accordance with data protection guidelines.  
 
Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; What happens if a member of the Selection Panel has a material relationship to a candidate?

A : 

Any member of the Selection Board, including the Chairperson, who stands in a material relationship to a person who is a candidate for employment in the school, shall disclose this relationship to the Board of Management and, where necessary, withdraw from the Selection Board. The Patron shall nominate another Chairperson or member in their place.  Such exclusion will stand for the entire process through to ratification at Board of Management level.  The person so excluded shall not play any part in the deliberations or decision of the Board of Management on the matter but shall continue to participate as appropriate in all other business of the Board of Management. Knowing a person in a professional capacity (i.e. having taught or worked with them in the past) is not in and of itself a material relationship.  A disclosure should be made and recorded as such by the selection board or the Board of Management as the case may be. 

Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; Does a teacher employed on successive contracts have to re-interview for each new appointment?

A : 

Educate Together advise that there is no seniority among fixed term posts.  Educate Together strongly advises that all fixed term posts are advertised every year.  However, where a fully qualified and registered teacher is engaged on successive contracts in the same or similar positions with the same employer, an interview process is required for the initial appointment only. The Board of Management should ensure that a written contract is furnished to the teacher prior to its commencement.  

Q : Recruitment; Teacher and Principal Appointment Procedures; What is the minimum required standard of education for appointment to an SNA post?

A : 

A special needs Assistant is required at minimum to have:              
A FETAC level 3 major qualification on the National Framework of 
Qualifications  
OR  
A minimum of three grade Ds in the Junior Certificate  
OR  
Equivalent 
Q : Recruitment; Developing School Posts; Is the appointment of the first mainstream class teacher in new school a Developing School Post?

A : 

No, it is not a developing school post as written sanction is not required from the DES. Permission to appoint the first mainstream class teacher is given via staffing schedule which is published in the Spring by the Department of Education and Skills.  The current enrolment figure for this appointment is 20 pupils.  This enrolment must be achieved by 30th September of that year.  Because this post is not a developing school post it does not have to be held back as a fixed term post as contingency as for teachers coming onto the main panel. This also ensures that teachers appointed as first mainstream class teachers in new schools would be entitled to placement on the Main ET panel should the numbers not materialise by 30th September.

Q : Recruitment; Developing School Posts; There are 2 vacancies in my school: a Developing School Post and a fixed term post to cover a career break. I know that I must hold one post back until October 26th. Does it have to be the Developing school post?

A : 

No, you can hold back the fixed term post, and it makes more sense to hold back the post that is least attractive option; i.e. it should be offered to the teacher who ranks lower at interview as it is not secure (although it must span the entire school year). 

Q : Recruitment; Can you ask existing staff who are beginning a new contract (roll over, new fixed term, got permanent post from the panel) to undergo Medmark assessment?

A : 

Medmark questionnaire is not normally for existing staff and is only required for teachers who are taking up an appointment at a new school. However a school can put a policy in place requiring all teachers to undergo a Medmark assessment at the beginning of any new contract. 

Q : Recruitment; We have shortlisted and called applicants for interview but completely forgot that we do not have gender balance on the selection panel. What should we do?

A : 

You must write to all applicants and inform them of the the mistake and let them know that you are now going to have to restart the process at the appointment of the selection panel stage. The new independent assessor must be appointed by the patron (a male this time), new criteria agreed and shortlisting take place again. 

Q : Recruitment; What should happen if a candidate chosen by the selection committee is deemed unsuitable after a reference check?

A : 

The selection committee should be recalled to discuss to the matter. Candidate ranked lower to be submitted to the board of management. 

Q : Recruitment; Is patron approval/ external assessor required for SNA interviews?

A : 

Yes, both. Please refer to Appendix E of the Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure.

Q : Recruitment; Is there a standard 32 hour working week for SNAs?

A : 

There are no nationally set working hours for SNAs. The working week for SNAs is defined in their contract as follows: ‘You will be required to work normal classroom hours including class break periods and in addition to attend before and after school in order to help with the preparation and tidying up of classrooms, reception and dispersal of children etc.  The hours of work will normally be from [xxxx] to [xxxx] daily during term time.’ No set hours were agreed but instead full-time SNAs are expected to work for the normal school hours in the school that they are working in, and in addition to be available for a period of time before and after school in order to help with reception and dispersal of children and preparation and tidying up of classrooms etc.  These times should be agreed locally by the school management and will vary from school to school depending on the requirements of the school.  DES payroll does consider a 32 hour week as standard for a full time SNA. The allocation of part-time SNA hours are given as a fraction of a 32 hour full-time position, e.g.  0.5 of an SNA is 16 hours, 0.75 equates to 24 hours and a junior infant day (0.83) is 26.5 hours. 

Q : Recruitment; In keeping the interview records for 18 months do we have to keep all the applications/CVs for applicants who were not shortlisted for interview or can these be destroyed?

A : 

Only the records of those shortlisted for interview need be kept for the 18 months. I'd probably keep the other CVs for a couple of months, in case there were any complaints, but the important ones to keep are the ones shortlisted for interview.

Q : Recruitment; We have recently opened an ASD unit. Do I have an option regarding seniority for SNAs in the unit, i.e. can I establish a separate seniority listing for the unit or has it to be a continuation of that already in place in mainstream?

A : 

The seniority listing is for the whole school and SNAs in the unit are seen as the same as SNAs in the mainstream so should be listed together. All staff could potentially be deployed either in the unit or in the mainstream setting over the years so SNAs currently based in the unit should be listed along with their mainstream colleagues.  

Q : Recruitment; The first ranked candidate for interview did not provide referee details of her current principal: what should we do?

A : 

Contact candidate and say that you forgot to mention at interview that the referees of all successful candidates (including those who are placed on internal panel) are checked.  Ask them for contact details of current principal.

Q : Recruitment; Our school is currently recruiting a principal and we are anxious to have the principal involved in the teacher interviews. What should we do?

A : 

I would email all applicants for the teaching position and inform them that the recruitment process has been put on hold pending the appointment of the new principal.  Advise that shortlisting will not take place until the principal is in place. 

Q : Recruitment; Interviews are due to take place tomorrow. Chair has become unavailable due to bereavement in the family. Can we go ahead with the interviews in their absence?

A : 

No, the interviews should be postponed until Chairperson becomes available.  If Chair is going to be unavailable for a period of time then perhaps the Chair could stand down temporarily.  ET would then inform the DES and a replacement Chair could be appointed.  

Q : Recruitment; When does the 4 month panel for teachers become active? Is it the date of advertisement or the date of commencement of the teacher?

A : 

It is neither; the 4 month panel becomes active on the date that the board of management approved the post. 

Q : Recruitment; My allocation of SNA hours has increased. I currently have a part-time SNA. Should I now offer the part-time SNA full time or infant day hours?

A : 

This may be done at the principal’s discretion.  The new posts may be advertised as normal.  

Q : Recruitment; Moratorium on filling of Posts of Responsibility; What is the moratorium on filling of posts of responsibility?

A : 

In 2009 the Government decided to implement a recruitment and promotion moratorium across the civil and public sector including the civil service, local authorities, non-commercial state bodies, the Garda Síochána and the Permanent Defence Forces, which had effect from 27th March, 2009 (Circular 0022-2009 'Implementation of Moratorium on Promotions in the Public Service').
The measures had an immediate impact for schools in relation to the filling of promotion posts other than those of Principal and Deputy Principal.  
However, there is currently a limited alleviation to the moratorium.
Q : Recruitment; Moratorium on filling of Posts of Responsibility; What is the current limited alleviation for the moratorium on filling posts of responsibility?

A : 

There is some limited alleviation to the moratorium that is in place since 27 March 2009 on the filling of posts of responsibility (Circular 0053-2011 'Limited Alleviation of Moratorium on Filling of Posts of Responsibility for 2011/12 School Year').
The limited alleviation is focused on those schools that are acutely affected at Assistant Principal level by the impact of the moratorium.  The alleviation measures are limited and it continues to be a matter for school authorities to re-organise and prioritise the appropriate duties for post of responsibility holders in the context of the application of the moratorium.    
The level of alleviation to be applied at individual school level will be determined by the Department when applications have been received and a clearer picture will have emerged on the overall number of vacancies involved and the level of alleviation required.  

Staff Grievances

Q : Staff Grievances; What is the purpose of the grievance procedure?

A : 

The purpose of this procedure is to provide a mechanism for the resolution of a grievance which a teacher in a national school, including a principal teacher, has against (i) the board of management in respect of the exercise of any of its responsibilities for the governance of the school, or (ii) the chairperson of the Board in an individual capacity or (iii) the principal teacher in respect of her/his duties and responsibilities for the organisation, conduct, and day to day activities of the school. 

Q : Staff Grievances; What areas does the grievance procedure cover?

A : 

The Grievance Procedure shall generally relate to breaches of school rules, policies, procedures or practices. The Grievance Procedure shall not deal with curricular matters. 

Q : Staff Grievances; How does the aggrieved teacher begin the Grievance Procedure?

A : 

The aggrieved teacher shall give notice in writing to the principal that the Grievance Procedure is being invoked.  The teacher shall discuss the grievance with the principal teacher with a view to resolving it.  If the grievance is not resolved within ten school days, the teacher shall be entitled to invoke Stage 2 within a further ten school days. 

Q : Staff Grievances; What happens if the grievance is not resolved within ten school days?

A : 

The aggrieved teacher shall give notice in writing to the principal and chairperson of the board of management that Stage 2 of the Grievance Procedure is being invoked. The teacher shall discuss the grievance with the chairperson of the Board with a view to resolving it.  The chairperson shall immediately take such steps as she/he considers appropriate to have the grievance resolved informally.  If the grievance is not resolved within ten school days, the teacher shall be entitled to invoke Stage 3 within a further ten school days. 

Q : Staff Grievances; The board received a letter of complaint from a member of staff at the end of the school term. Due to board members being on holidays and waiting for appropriate advice it has now been 2 weeks and we haven't responded. What should we do?

A : 

The board should write to the staff member apologising for the delay and advise them that certain board memebrs were away and it is taking a little while to get appropriate advice on the matter. Advise the staff member that you will respond in detail very soon. 

Suspension/Expulsion of pupils

Q : Suspension/Expulsion of pupils; Code of Behaviour; What is the Code of Behaviour?

A : 

The code of behaviour is the set of programmes, practices and procedures that together form the school’s plan for helping students in the school behave well and learn.  
The code of behaviour helps the school community to promote the school ethos, relationships, policies, procedures and practices that encourage good behaviour and prevent unacceptable behaviour.  The code of behaviour helps teachers, other members of staff, students and parents to work together for a happy, effective and safe school.  
The code expresses the vision, mission and values of the school and its Patron.  It translates the expectations of staff, parents and students into practical arrangements that will help to ensure continuity of instruction to all students.  It helps to foster an orderly, harmonious school where high standards of behaviour are expected and supported.
Q : Suspension/Expulsion of pupils; Code of Behaviour; What is the content of the Code of Behaviour?

A : 

In order to comply with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, the code of behaviour should address:
• The standards of behaviour expected in the school
• The plan for promoting good behaviour
• The ways in which the school responds to unacceptable behaviour
• The plan for implementing the code of behaviour
• School procedures for the use of suspension and expulsion
Q : Suspension/Expulsion of pupils; What is suspension?

A : 

Suspension is defined as:
Requiring the student to absent himself/herself from the school for a specified, limited period of school days.
During the period of suspension, the student retains their place in the school.
Q : Suspension/Expulsion of pupils; What are the grounds for suspension?

A : 

Suspension should be a proportionate response to the behaviour that is causing concern.  Normally, other interventions will have been tried before suspension, and school staff will have reviewed the reasons why these have not worked.  The decision to suspend a student requires such serious grounds such as that:
• The student’s behaviour has had a seriously detrimental effect on the education of other students.
• The student’s continued presence in the school at this time constitutes a threat to safety.
• The student is responsible for serious damage to property.
A single incident of serious misconduct may be grounds for suspension.
Q : Suspension/Expulsion of pupils; What is an inappropriate use of suspension?

A : 

Students should not usually be suspended for:
• Poor academic performance
• Poor attendance or lateness
• Minor breaches of the code of behaviour
However, any behaviour that is persistently disruptive to learning or potentially dangerous can be a serious matter.  Behaviour must be examined in context to understand both the behaviour itself and the response or sanction that is most appropriate.
Q : Suspension/Expulsion of pupils; When can rolling suspension be used?

A : 

A student should not be suspended again shortly after they return to school unless:
• They engage in serious misbehaviour that warrants suspension and
• Fair procedures are observed in full and
• The standard applied to judging the behaviour is the same as the standard applied to the behaviour of any other student.          
In addition, students should not be suspended for an indefinite period.  Any such suspension would be regarded as a de-facto expulsion and would be treated as such under section 29 of the Education Act 1998.
Q : Suspension/Expulsion of pupils; Can a student be given an unacknowledged suspension or be suspended informally?

A : 

Exclusion of a student for part of the school day, as a sanction, or asking parents to keep a child from school, as a sanction, is a suspension.  Any exclusion imposed by the school is a suspension, and should follow the Guidelines relating to suspension.

Teaching Council

Q : Teaching Council; What is the role of the Teaching Council?

A : 

The Teaching Council is the regulator of the teaching profession and promotes professional standards in teaching. It acts in the interests of the public good while upholding and enhancing the reputation and status of the teaching profession through fair and transparent regulation.

Q : Teaching Council; What is the code of professional conduct for teachers?

A : 

The Teaching Council published a new Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers on 20 June 2012. The Code will guide teachers’ professional judgement and practice.
The Code sets out the standards of professional knowledge, skill, competence and conduct which are expected of registered teachers. In all, there are 33 such standards which reflect the complexity and variety of teaching and cover areas such as communication and relationships, equality and inclusion, compliance with national and school policies, professional development and pupil/student welfare. The standards are underpinned by four core values - respect, care, integrity and trust.
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