How schools are governed in Ireland?

Primary School:

National Parents Council (NPC) – Primary school parents

  • Set up in 1985, representative organisation for parents of children attending primary school
  • members of the NPC are the affiliated parents associations.
  • Special Interest Group:
    • parents of children from
      • the traveler community
      • the migrant community
      • with special education needs attending mainstream schools and special needs
      • attending Irish Medium Schools
      • Belongs to a religious minority
      • or has no religion
    • each parents associations nominates members to each of thee groups

Policy Document:

NPC exists to ensure that all parents are supported and empowered to become effective partners in their children’s education.


  • is a bridge between NPC members and the organisational structures and it is the policy developing body within NPC. It has 2 reps from each NPC County Board and 1 rep from each SIG.
  • meets approximately 3 times a year
  • when NPC speaks on behalf of parents, they are doing it knowing that the issues have been considered and debated by its members

“Promoting Children’s Rights”

  • a student council should be set up in each school with a representative from each class in the school
  • a student council must have reporting procedures to the Parents Association and the Board of Management

“The Department of Education & Skills” (DES)

  • they must invest in training for the whole school community on equality:
    • teachers
    • parents
    • staff
    • children/students
    • community

“Health & Safety Committee”

  • All schools should have a health and safety committee with representation from the school staff, board of management, parents and children
  • This committee is responsible for reviewing the schools safety statement and risk assessment annually
  • it is funded and supported by the Department of Education and Skills

“Child Protection Policy”

  • Child Protection Policy must be inline with Children First and DES child protection policy
  • Children First Officer should receive the child protection policy to make comments on
  • they should receive child protection training and receive updated training every two years

There should be collaboration between the Department of Education & Skills and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Effective Schools System

  1. Good outcomes for all children
  2. Leadership from the Principal
  3. Selection Recruitment & Training
  4. Professional on-going training, development and support for teachers
  5. Appropriate Class Size
  6. Early Childhood Education – input from parents
  7. Community Involvement
  8. Funding

Parental Involvement


  • parent education should be provided in the areas of:
    • Family Literacy
    • The Irish Education System
    • English and Irish Language
    • Supporting transition from primary to post-primary education


  • communication should be transparent and open at all levels

Information on the curriculum

  • 2 parent teacher meetings per school year
  • written report for each child twice a year
  • parents must be given written information regarding any assessments that their child may undergo
  • all children with special education needs must have a written individual plan

Volunteering – recruit and organize parent help and support

  • all schools should have a volunteer policy that must be drawn up and reviewed in consultation with parents in the schools
  • this policy must be developed taking into consideration the schools individual needs along with addressing issues relating to:
    • recruitment and selection of volunteers
    • training and support for volunteers
    • volunteers welfare
    • volunteer coordinator should be appointed from within the parent body
    • Their responsibility is to liaise with the whole school community and the Principal
    • a space should be developed in the school where parents and volunteers can meet

Learning at home

  • providing information and ideas to families about how to help their child at home with homework etc.

Decision Making

  • include parents in school decisions, developing parent leaders and representatives

Collaborating with the community

Primary School Management

School Level

  • Board of Governance
  • Reports should be read from the Principal, Teacher Rep and Parents Association
  • Boards elect a chairperson who should sit for one Board term only
  • All report should go up on the website for transparency purposes
  • 4 parents nominees on the Board or 2 nominees for smaller schools
  • all roles of members should be clearly identified
  • BOG should recognize the parent’s association
  • There should be national supervision of how Boards of governance operate
  • the parents need to understand the role of BOG and the PA
  • the principal of the school should not be a member of the board but instead be an ex-officio member. They should not be allowed to vote.
  • all school policies should be developed with a whole school approach: school staff, board of governance, parents, students are included

The DES (the Department of education and skills) role on governance and schools:

  • DES ensures that all policies are understandable, published and meet necessary procedures
  • DES should provide a template for each policy and a checklist to ensure the school has all required policies in place
  • Policies should be consistent and concern all other school policies
  • All policies should be reviewed at least once every 3 years both at DES level and school level
  • Each policy must state that the policy should be reviewed, assessed and updated as necessary and this should be reported by the school on an ongoing or annual basis

Secondary School

NPCPP – National Parents Council Post-Primary

The NPCPP is a voluntary group that gives national voice to parents of young people in post-primary school in Ireland.

Secondary Schools in Ireland consist of:

  • patronage of catholic voluntary schools
  • religious minority groups
  • schools run by christian brothers
  • community and comprehensive schools
  • education and training board schools

Each of these sectors establishes a governing body which nominates 4 representatives to the NPCPP. They act as an umbrella group for all parent associations in secondary school sin Ireland. The NPCPP consists of 20 members who work on behalf of parents and children on a voluntary basis.

School Management/Governance System/Stakeholders:

Patron – Board of Management – Principle – Deputy Principle – Year Heads/Coordinators – Class Tutors – Subject Teachers – Students

Fig 1.0:


Fig 2.0:


The Patron

“owner of the school”

The Patron can be an individual group or a Catholic or Church of Ireland Bishop. Typically the Parish Priest in the locality of the school will carry out the functions of the Patron on behalf of the Bishop.

The Patron is responsible for:

  • school ethos
  • the appointment and support of the Board of Management
  • financial and legal matters
  • the upkeep of assets
  • the supervision of staff appointments in accordance with department regulations

The Patron defines the ethos of the school and appoints board of management to run the school.

The Parents Association

The Parents Association is a support for parents of the students in the school. All parents are members of the parents of association but they usually elect a committee to carry out the responsibilities of the parents association on behalf of all the parents. This committee carries out the day-to-day activities of the parents association.

The parents association can:

  • suggest and/or organize extra curricular activities
  • advice the parents and Board of Management on policy issues and incidents which may require a review of school policy, e.g. Bullying, Homework etc.
  • Organize information/social events for new parents to the school
  • Organize welcome events for new students to the school
  • Prepare school handbooks/calendars
  • Provide support/organisational input to major school events, e.g. communions, confirmations, debs etc
  • Contribute to school newsletter
  • Organize Fund Raising Events for the school
  • Arrange talks on topics of interest to parents, e.g. guest speaker on parenting/discipline etc

The Board of Management

The board of management is the backbone of the school. It carries out the activities of the patron for the benefit of the students in the school and their parents. It is made up of teachers, parents, community and patron members.

  • two direct nominees of the patron
  • two parents, one a mother and one a father of children who have commenced attendance in school
  • the Principle
  • one extra members of teaching staff
  • two extra members elected by the nominees

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