Parents and students will have ‘right to consultation’ over school policies

Education ‘passport’ for entry to post-primary to be compulsory from September

Ruairí Quinn: “The charter will underpin a right to know how a child is doing compared to other children of their age, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and how can children learn better.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Ruairí Quinn: “The charter will underpin a right to know how a child is doing compared to other children of their age, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and how can children learn better.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 01:00

Parents and students will have a right to be consulted on codes of behaviour, bullying policies and even the weight of school bags under planned new school charters.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he was finalising legislation which would compel schools to consult parents and students “in developing and revising school policies and procedures”.

Speaking at a conference at the weekend organised by the National Parents Council Primary, Mr Quinn said he envisaged consultation across areas including discipline, enrolment, healthy eating and technology.

“The charter will underpin a right to know how a child is doing compared to other children of their age, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and how can children learn better,” he said.

“Courtesy and confidentiality will also be central, recognising that a parent has the right to be met with courtesy at all times from school staff – and to be assured of total confidentiality and privacy in respect of their child’s education.”

Legislation underpinning the charter will be contained in the final version of the Admission to Schools Bill, amending the 1998 Education Act.

Existing provisions were “narrowly focused” on grievances or appeals. In contrast, the proposed new section 28 of the Act would set out “principles that should apply in the relationship between a school and its parents and students” and these would be backed by statutory guidelines.

Mr Quinn confirmed the recently piloted “education passport” – which accompanies children transferring from primary to secondary schools – would be be compulsory from next September.

Educational passport

The sixth-class report card documents a child’s academic performance, personality and attendance, while also capturing information on special educational needs. This report card is accompanied by two other documents – one completed by the child, the other by their parents or guardians.

Áine Lynch, chief executive of the parents council, which was involved in designing the passport, said it would help children settle into secondary school by improving channels of communication.

Further details on the passports can be found at ncca.ie