Student and Parent Charter

Summary of the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill, 2019

1. Key Concepts of the Bill
2. Content of Charters
3. Power of Direction
4. Complaints Procedures
5. Functions of Schools

1. Key concepts of the Bill

The Minister, in preparing the national charter guidelines, will have regard to the need for a school to –

  • seek to achieve, as far as practicable and subject to the resources available, the best possible outcomes for students in relation to their education and personal development,
  • foster and promote the relationship and a spirit of partnership between the school and students and their parents,
  • foster and promote mutual respect in communications between the school and students and their parents,
  • ensure, as appropriate, confidentiality in communications between the school and students and their parents,
  • promote the role and participation of parents in the education and personal development of students,
  • consult with, and encourage the participation and engagement of, students (to the extent appropriate to their age and experience) and their parents, and respond as appropriate, to comments and suggestions made by students and their parents, in respect of the development, review and updating of school plans and policies of the school (other than the admission policy) and the activities of the school,
  • monitor and review the provision of education by the school to students, including by consulting with, and responding, as appropriate, to comments and suggestions made by,      students (to the extent appropriate to their age and experience) and their parents, for the purposes of assessing and improving such provision on an ongoing basis,
  • foster and promote equality of access for students to, and participation by students in, education by seeking, as far as practicable, to reduce the costs to parents and students of such participation,
  • address and resolve concerns of students or their parents relating to the school, as far as possible, at an early stage, and
  • ensure that grievances of students or their parents relating to the school are dealt with efficiently, effectively and fairly and, as far as possible, in an informal manner consistent with the principles of fair procedures.

2. Content of Charters

While the detail of the charter guidelines will be determined by the Minister following consultation with the education stakeholders, the Bill gives a glimpse of the types of matters that can be addressed in those guidelines. In that regard, it provides that the Minister’s guidelines in respect of the content of a school charter may relate to -

  • procedures for consulting with students and their parents on such matters relating to the school as may be specified in the charter guidelines, including by inviting, and responding to, comments and suggestions from students and their parents on any such matter;
  • information on school plans and policies of the school (other than the admission policy) and the activities of the school;
  • procedures (including consultation procedures) for-

     - the preparation, review and updating of school plans and policies of the school (other than the admission policy), and
     - the development, review and updating of the activities of the school;

  • procedures to be established by a board under section 20 for the purposes of informing students and their parents of matters relating to the operation and performance of the school;
  • procedures to be established by a board under section 27 for the purposes of informing students and their parents of the activities of the school;
  • information on the structures and systems for the management of the school;
  • the information to be provided to students and their parents relating to monies that the school receives (including voluntary contributions made by parents) and the expenditure of those monies by the school, and of the form and manner in which that information is to be provided;
  • the information to be provided to students and their parents relating to the school calendar, closures and timetables and of the form and manner in which that information is to be provided;
  • the procedures for dealing with grievances of students or their parents relating to the school;
  • details of aggregated and anonymised information to be provided to students and their parents relating to grievances dealt with by the school, which may include the number or type of such grievances and related outcomes, and the form and manner in which that information is to be provided;

The Bill also provides that the Minister may, in the national charter guidelines, address such other information, procedures and matters relating to the school as the Minister considers necessary and appropriate for the purposes of the charter guidelines. This will allow the Minister scope to address any new issues that emerge in the school system in the future and that fall within the overall framework of this legislation.

3. Power of Direction

Under the Bill, the Minister has the power to give a direction to a board where he or she is of the opinion that a board has failed, or is failing, in whole or in part, to comply with its obligation to prepare, publish and implement a charter.

4. Complaints Procedures

The Bill is also replacing the existing Section 28 of the Education Act, 1998 with a new Section 28 which provides for new standardised grievance procedures in all schools. The grievance procedures must provide for matters such as -

  • the requirements to be complied with by the school and the student or parent concerned in relation to the grievance process,
  • the investigation of grievances in a manner appropriate to the nature of the grievance (whether informal or formal means or both)
  • the resolution of grievances (formally or informally)
  • the giving of reasons for its decisions in relation to grievances
  • the implementation of decisions and any remedial action required

5. Functions of Schools

The Bill provides for two additional functions of a school under Section 9 of the Education Act, 1998. The new functions of a school are:

  1. to promote the involvement of students and their parents in the provision of education to students and
  2. ensure the implementation of its charter.

The existing remit of the Ombudsman for Children to investigate complaints in relation to the administration actions of a school in connection with the performance of its functions under section 9 of the Act of 1998, is not changed in this legislation. However, the Ombudsman for Children will also be able to investigate complaints in relation to the two new functions of a school.