Educate Together Publishes Its Procedures for Operating as a Patron of Schools, A Step Towards Openness,Transparency and Accountability in Irish Education. For Immediate Publication
The Irish State grants huge legal powers to patrons of schools. These powers include the establishment of schools, their buildings, the control of management boards, the appointment of all teaching staff and the exclusive control of 30 minutes per day of teaching contact with all pupils. However, the Irish State has no mechanism regulating the exercise of these powers. Educational legislation is silent on the subject. Whilst this situation is certainly due to the historical fact that most patrons of schools are religious bodies and enjoy a special status in Irish law, it is now an anachronism. With the emergence of new secular patron bodies that have democratic corporate structures, there is a necessity for openness and accountability in the exercise of powers that have such a dramatic influence on the operation of schools and the education of children.
Educate Together’s Patronage Manual
At this press conference, Educate Together is publishing an initial set of its policies for operating as a patron of schools. These 17 policies cover the establishment of national schools, the appointment of management boards including the selection of the vital role of Chairperson, the appointment of independent assessors for selection of staff, the approval of all staff appointments and the transformation of schools of other patronage to become Educate Together schools. These policies are published in a ‘Patronage Manual’ that outlines the legal role of a patron in Irish education and provides an easy guide for those who work, volunteer or learn in an Educate Together school.
This publication has not been required by any government agency. Educate Together hopes that it will start a public discussion around issues of best practice of patronage in Irish education. It makes no claim that the policies and procedure outlined in this manual are superior than those operated by other patrons and looks forward to the publication of policy by other patrons and considerable debate on the issues. It also calls on the State to examine its lack of regulation of patrons of schools and to engage with school providers to bring forward a system of legal compliance, openness and public accountability so that all those in Irish education can work together to ensure that the vital role of patron is carried out to the highest standards. We believe that this will significantly benefit the delivery of education to children in schools.
Educate Together is a recognised patron body in Ireland that operates schools based on the delivery of ‘equality of access and esteem to children irrespective of their social, cultural or religious backgrounds’. Set up in the 1970s by volunteers and educationalists, it now operates 56 schools throughout the country. These schools are fully recognised by the Department of Education and Science. It terms of funding, they are under-funded on an equal basis to all other national schools. Over the past 5 years, Educate Together has become a lead provider of new primary schools in Ireland. It has an internationally recognised Learn Together’ ethical education curriculum, has applied to open 45 primary schools in the next few years and is now applying to open its first second-level schools. It is an independent educational charity that is supported by small government grants and extensive private fundraising.
For more information:
Paul Rowe, CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org 01 4292500