Regulation of school patronage urged

 

EDUCATE TOGETHER, the multi-denominational school body, has called on the State to examine its lack of regulation of patrons of schools.

Yesterday it published a manual for school patronage, which it hopes will “start a public discussion around issues of best practice in patronage in Irish education”.

The manual outlines the legal role of a patron in Irish education and provides guidance for those who work, volunteer or learn in an Educate Together school. The group said it looked forward to the publication of similar policies by other patrons, and to “considerable debate on these issues”.

The publication comes as the Department of Education continues discussions with the Catholic hierarchy on the possible transfer of Catholic schools to new patrons. The church acts as patron of 92 per cent of primary schools.

Educate Together is the fastest growing school patron in Irish education. It manages 56 primary schools and hopes to move into the second-level sector shortly.

The group said the State grants huge legal powers to school patrons, but said it has no mechanism for regulating the exercise of these powers. It said educational legislation is silent on the subject.

The manual sets out procedures for establishment of national schools, appointment of management boards, appointment of independent assessors for selection of staff, approval of all staff appointments, definition of the Educate Together ethos and patron’s curriculum – and transfer of schools of other patronage to become Educate Together schools.