Caroline’s Story

Our consultation process

Caroline Toole is Deputy Principal at Ballymakenny College

Ballymakenny College have an extensive consultation process that they use in preparing policies that have a significant impact on the daily lives of the students, such as the Mobile Phone Policy, the Healthy Eating Policy, the Code of Behaviour, and the Policy for Special Education.

The drawing up of policies is spearheaded by the School Planning Committee, which is made up of teachers. After an area of need is identified, a task group is established to research relevant legislation, etc., as well as to survey all members of the school community in relation to the proposed policy. Based upon this feedback, a draft policy is compiled, ready for further consultation.

An annual, standing date is set aside in the school calendar for whole-school consultations. These community meetings take place outside of the school day, and are attended and facilitated by members of the Board of Management, and teachers, as part of their Croke Park hours. Parents and students are welcomed to the school hall, where they are split into groups. Students, parents, Board of Management, and staff are all represented in each group. Light refreshments are provided.

Each group is assigned a section of the proposed policy and time is given to allow everyone to read their section of the policy. Participants are asked to consider the PMI’s of their section of the policy – the Positives, the negatives (Minuses), and what is Interesting. During these 10-15 minutes, individual note-taking takes place. Then, in the small group setting, everyone shares their own PMI suggestions. These are discussed until consensus is reached within the group as to what to share with the entire room. This is then shared with the meeting facilitator and recorded.

This consultation process, while long, has the benefit of ensuring that all members of the school community have an opportunity to contribute to school policy. The PMI evening is a valuable opportunity for members of the Board, staff, students and parents to meet one another, and appreciate the challenges of one another’s roles. Students have an opportunity to work with the adults in the community as equals.

Real stories from the Educate Together community

Educate Together’s schools mean so much to the lives of the children and young people who attend them, and to the communities that they are a part of. You can read, watch and listen to real stories from the students, staff and families involved in the Educate Together school movement on this page and at the links above. Do you have an experience from an Educate Together school which you would like to share? Share your story: