Action Plan 2017 Rightly Emphasises the Role of Parents in Delivering Real Choice in Irish Education

Action Plan 2017 Rightly Emphasises the Role of Parents in Delivering Real Choice in Irish Education     

Educate Together welcomes Minister Bruton’s updated Action Plan for Education 2017, published this morning. 

Strengthening the role of parents and students

Most encouraging in the plan is the central role the Department of Education sees that parents have to play in the overall process of delivering change in Irish education. This is to be achieved through parental input on a range of issues: admissions policies, complaints procedures, reducing school costs and identifying demand for diversity of school patronage. Also welcome is the inclusion of students in the Charter to be developed. Students’s perspective and rights should be central to all policy development. 

Early movers 

Educate Together welcomes the Departments’ commitment to commence discussions with existing and prospective patrons on potential “early movers” – schools in respect of which a desire for patronage reassignment has already been expressed. There are 17 areas around Ireland that have been allocated for new Educate Together schools under the 2012/2013 divestment process.* Educate Together looks forward to engaging with the Minister and his team in establishing these equality-based schools as an absolute priority.

DCYA involvement 

Educate Together notes that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) is now to have a role in the process of identifying demand for school diversity around Ireland. Educate Together has previously raised concerns around the fairness of the process, given the disproportionate influence that the ETBs and the Catholic Church are to be given, but today welcomes the DCYA’s involvement and expertise in this area.

Educate Together has proposed a systemic solution in this case. This involves the State contacting the parents of all 3 year old children and seeking their first second and third preference for primary school. This could be achieved by a confidential online process aligned with the child benefit data. Educate Together is happy to work with the DCYA, ETBs and the DES in advancing these proposals in the interest of putting families where they should be: at the centre of the process.