The structure & role of Boards of Management in schools

Boards of Management in Primary Schools:


  • Primary schools have had Boards of Management since 1975 but the Education Act 1998 puts the system on a statutory basis and sets out the responsibilities of the board
  • Primary schools are not obliged to have BOMs but most do. It is at the discretion of the Patron
  • The composition of the BOM is to be agreed between school patrons, national associations of parents, school management organisations, teacher representations and the Minister
  • The board is appointed by the Patron.
  • The board must comply with ministerial directions with regards gender balance on the board

Functions of the Board:

  • manage the school on behalf of the patron, for the benefit of the students and to provide an appropriate education for each pupil in the school
  • the role and methods of operations of BOMs in primary schools was agreed by the Department, school managers, parents and teachers in 2003
  • The board must have a procedure of informing parents about its activities and this may be in the form of an annual report

Activities of the Board:

  • responsible for drawing up the school plan and ensuring that it is implemented
  • appoints the principal, teachers and other staff
  • must ensure the school fulfills its functions as set out in the Education Act 1998
  • it must promote contact between the school, the parents and the community. It must facilitate and give any help possible to the parents association in its formation and activities
  • it has overall responsibility for the schools finances

Who is on the Board?

In a school with more than one teacher:

  • 2 direct nominees of the patron
  • 2 parents of children currently enrolled in the school (1 male and 1 female parent)
  • the principal
  • 1 other teacher elected by the teaching staff
  • 2 extra members agreed by the representatives of the patron, teachers and parents
  • the principal can be a member of the board but is not entitled to vote



In a school with just one teacher:

  • Principal
  • 2 direct nominees of the Patron
  • 1 community representative



Criteria for choosing the 2 community representatives:

  • they must have a commitment to the ethos of the school
  • they must have an understanding and commitment to catholic education as outlined in the Deed of Trust for Catholic schools
  • For Church of Ireland Schools, they must be members of that church
  • They must have skills that are complementary to the boards requirements
  • They must be interested in Education but should bot be parents of children currently attending the school or teachers currently on the staff of the school
  • gender balance must be a consideration

The Patron appoints the Chairperson of the Board, usually the local parish priest in the case of catholic schools

Board of Management in Secondary Schools/Post-Primary Schools:


Two forms of BOMs in Post-Primary Schools

Catholic Voluntary Schools with Boards of Management operate in accordance with the Articles of Management for Catholic Schools negotiated by the ASTI and the Catholic Managers.

Community Schools, Comprehensive Schools and Community Colleges operate under the Deeds of Trust for such schools

Purpose of the Board of Management

  • represents the introduction of democracy and participation in the management of second level schools
  • it helps to ensure the future of that schools and the employment security of its staff
  • it ensures an element of continuity and security for teachers at a time when religious orders are considering withdrawal & actual withdrawal from secondary school education
  • community schools have BOMs since their foundation but in voluntary schools, BOMs were finally agreed on in 1985

Composition of BOMs 

Voluntary Secondary Sector 

  • 8 persons appointed by the trustees/patron
    • 4 members are nominated by the trustees
    • 2 parents/legal guardians of children currently in the school are elected by fellow parents/legal guardians
    • 2 teachers are elected teachers in the school on the date of the election whether they are
      • pro-rota contracted
      • part-time
      • job sharing
      • full time teachers
    • elected teachers should have at least one registered year completed in the school & should be lay members of staff
    • term of office for each member is 3 years

Community schools

  • 10 members
    • 3 members are nominated by the religious authority
    • 3 are nominees of the local Vocational Educational Committee
    • 2 parents of pupils in the school who are residents of the area
    • 2 teacher nominees are elected by all the teachers in the school

Comprehensive Schools:


  • A Deed of Trust has been agreed for the comprehensive schools under the trusteeship of the Catholic Bishops
    • 2 nominees of the diocese
    • 1 nominee of the Vocational Educational Committee
    • the CEO of the Vocational Educational Committee
    • 2 nominees of the parents
    • 2 nominees of the teachers
    • may opt for a 9th member if they wish
    • term of office is 5 years

Church of Ireland 

  • a working Deed of Trust is in operation
  • 6 nominees of the trustees
  • 1 CEO
  • 2 parents
  • 2 teachers
  • term of office is 5 years

Community Colleges

  • owned by the VEC and are usually managed by a BOM which is a sub-committee of the VEC
  • a “designated” Community College will usually have 3 nominees of the religious trustees
  • 3 nominees of the VEC
  • 2 parents
  • 2 teachers
  • option to have a 10th member
  • Board decisions have to be ratified by the VEC itself

The School Principal and the Board

  • The school principal is allowed to attend and speak at Board meetings but they are not allowed to vote
  • the principal should report to board meetings, keeping it up to date on school activities

Principal Responsibilities

  • Academic Organisation
    • day-to-day running of the internal business of the school
    • oversees the academic organisation of the school:
      • timetabling
      • staff allocation
      • class organisation
      • employment of and allocation of duties to non-teaching staff
  • Discipline
    • responsible for pupil discipline in the school
    • a decision on the short-term suspension of a pupil may be made by the principal
    • such decisions should be reported to the BOM at the next meeting
  • Communication
    • all necessary communication with The Department of Education and Science should be undertaken by the principle
    • maintain communication with the parents of the pupils in the school
  • Leave
    • applications for leave must be submitted to the Board but the Principal may grant leave to a teacher for 5 school days in a school year if the reason is sufficient enough to them, e.g. funeral, wedding

Election of Teacher Representatives to BOM

  • Voluntary Schools
    • ASTI insists on the right of its members to pre-select their own candidates for the positions on the board
  • Community and Comprehensive Schools
    • the executive committees of the ASTI and TUI have agreed to cooperate in the election of teacher representatives to BOMs in Community and Comprehensive Schools

Functions of the Teacher Representative on BOM

  • safeguarding the interests of staff
  • giving professional advice
  • positive role in the overall development and promotion of the school (e.g. to promote the welfare of the school , to develop policies that will assist pupils and staff, to be fully involved in all board sub-committees and selection committees

Taking Decisions on the BOM 

Sometimes the BOM takes decisions with far reaching effects influencing the education of the pupils and the livelihood of the staff.

The Board should be clear on:

  • why the decision is being taken?
  • what exactly is the decision intended to achieve?
  • what further information is required?
  • who will be affected by the decision?
  • when must the decision be taken and implemented?
  • where does responsibility for implementing the decision rest?
  • what would be the likely effect if no decision was taken?






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