Specific Responsibilities of Boards of Management
School Plan & DEIS Action Plan
The board of management has statutory responsibility for making arrangements for the preparation and adoption of a school plan or, where one is already in place, for regularly reviewing and, where appropriate, amending the plan. This involves a continuous cycle of planning, implementing, evaluating, reviewing and planning. The board also has responsibility for the circulation of copies of the school plan to the patron, parents, teachers and other staff of the school. While the principal and staff will undertake much of the detailed work involved in preparing a school plan, the board is ultimately responsible for seeing that this work is undertaken and, in the case of a whole-school evaluation (WSE), the board will be held accountable for delivering on this responsibility. The School Plan should be informed by the mission of the ETB and the Trustee Partner (where applicable) the ETB’s Statement of Strategy and any policies or guidelines that may be in place regarding the characteristic spirit of its schools. The school planning process includes the development and regular updating of school policies. Some policies are required by law, some are required to comply with DES circulars, and others are necessary to provide coherence and direction to the work of the school. A recommended list of policies that should be included in the School Plan is set out at Appendix 2. All policies need to be regularly reviewed and, if necessary, revised. Thus a board should develop and maintain a Policy Review Calendar. It might also be helpful to new board members in particular, if a short section of each board meeting was devoted to briefly familiarising members with one or two different school policies. Some 200 post-primary schools are Designated as DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) Schools on the basis of the level of disadvantage of the communities they serve. DEIS schools are also required to have three-year Action Plans for educational inclusion. 2. School Planning & Self-Evaluation School Self-Evaluation (SSE) is the preferred tool for gathering and analysing the data essential to developing the School Plan and the DEIS Action Plan. SSE is simply the whole school community (especially the staff), taking the initiative, under the direction of the board of management, to look at how the school is performing under a number of headings; making judgments about what is working well and what needs to be improved; developing an annual school improvement plan (SIP) to achieve the necessary improvement; and reporting annually to the school community on this work. The parents and students must also be consulted in the course of the SSE process. DES Circular 40/2012 states that over a four-year period from 2012, all post-primary schools should engage in school self-evaluation and produce three-year improvement plans for numeracy, literacy and one aspect of teaching and learning across all subjects and programmes.
3. Financial Matters The ETB is the corporate entity and has ultimate responsibility for financial matters. However, each year, the ETB allocates a budget to the school and the board of management is responsible for how this budget allocation is spent and accounted for. The board is also required to report annually and certify income and expenditure, in a specified format, to the ETB. As part of the ETB’s budgeting process, a board is required each year to submit to the CE, usually before 31 May, an estimate of the income and expenditure required for the following year. 4. Premises and Equipment The ETB is responsible for the erection of the school buildings, for the development of the school premises, and for expenditure on the initial equipping of the school. The board is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the school premises and grounds out of the annual financial allocation provided by the ETB. In consultation with the principal, it is responsible for carrying out minor repairs and for the choice and replacement of books, stationery, furniture and other materials for the school. In practice the board delegates this function to the principal.
5. Reporting Responsibilities The board is required to provide an annual report to the ETB, and such other reports and information, as may be required by the ETB. A board is also required to establish procedures for informing parents about the operation and performance of the school; these may include the publication and circulation to parents, teachers, other staff and student council, as appropriate, of a report on the operation and performance of the school in any school year, with particular reference to the achievement of objectives as set out in the school plan. 6. Code of Behaviour A board has statutory responsibility for preparing (following consultation with principal, teachers, parents and students) a Code of Behaviour for the students registered at the school. This code shall specify:
standards of behaviour that should be observed by each student;
measures that may be taken when a student fails/refuses to observe those standards;
procedures to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled;
grounds for removing a suspension imposed on a student; and
procedures regarding notification of a child’s absence from school.
The focus of a school’s code of behaviour should be on recognising and rewarding positive student behaviour. And a code of behaviour must be in accordance with the NEWB (TUSLA) 2008 Guidelines on Developing School Code of Behaviour.
7. Admission, Suspension and Expulsion of Students A board of management has specific legal responsibility for publishing the policy of the school governing admission to the school, participation in the school’s programmes and the expulsion and suspension of students from the school. The functions of a board in relation to the expulsion, suspension or refusal to enrol a student are set out clearly in the Education and Welfare Act (2000) and in sections 10, 11 and 12 of the NEWB’s (TUSLA) 2008 Guidelines. Board members must be familiar with these guidelines. In coming to a decision about suspension, expulsion or refusal to enrol a student, a board of management must have regard for the rules of natural justice. While the principal, on behalf of the board, deals with the practicalities of student admission, it is the board that formally enrols students in a school and the board that formally refuses enrolment, suspends (see qualification immediately below regarding suspension of students) or expels students. Thus, appeals against refusals to enrol, suspend or expel students are appeals against decisions of the board. According to NEWB’s (TUSLA) 2008 Guidelines the ETB holds the authority to suspend a student but this authority may be devolved under Section 44 of the Education and Training Boards Act, 2013, to the board of management of a school, in which case the ETB must ensure that the scope of the authority given is in line with the provisions of the NEWB Guidelines, or Model Agreement and any relevant legal requirements. Also, the NEWB Guidelines point out that where a board of management proposes to delegate this authority to the principal (and it is usual for boards of management to delegate to school principals the authority to suspend students for a limited number of days) the board should put a formal delegation arrangement in place. Where a board of management refuses to enrol a student, suspends a student for more than a total of 20 days or expels a student, the parents/guardians of the student or the student, where s/he is over 18, may appeal the decision, in the first instance, to the ETB and thereafter to the Secretary General of the DES. 8. School Inspections The DES Inspectorate conducts different kinds of inspections in schools and centres (subject, thematic, programme, incidental and follow-up inspections, and whole school evaluations in schools; and evaluations of centres) and reports of these are usually published on the DES website. While all inspections are relevant to the work of a board of management, a board is specifically involved in the whole school/centre evaluation (WSE) process and the inspectors will meet with the board in the course of the evaluation. Thus, board members need to:
understand the role of the board in managing the school – the board of management has ‘responsibility for the general direction of the organisation and curriculum of the school’;
understand the WSE process and, in particular, the WSE reporting process;
understand the School Plan, its importance in terms of WSE – and the vision the board of management has for the future of the school;
be generally aware of the school’s strengths and of the areas of school life in need of improvement;
ensure that the school responds appropriately to recommendations in inspection reports; and
understand how the school operates.
9. Annual Adoption of Educational Scheme for School The principal is required each year to prepare an educational scheme for the following academic year and to specify any additional teachers required. This educational scheme is submitted to the board for its consideration and transmitted by it to the ETB. In this sense, the board is responsible for adopting the educational scheme for the school within approved resources each year. This refers to the educational programmes and subjects offered by the school.
10. Employment of Staff A school board of management does not have responsibility for the employment or performance of staff (teaching or non-teaching) in a school. It is the duty of the ETB Chief Executive (CE), on behalf of the ETB, to employ and manage staff for ETB schools. However, a board will annually, in accordance with ETB policies and procedures, request the ETB to make provision for the employment in the school of a principal and as many teachers and other staff as a board from time to time thinks necessary for the effective operation of the school. The final allocation of teaching posts to a school is subject to the prior approval of the CE. Though the board of management has no role in the appointment to posts of responsibility, it does have responsibility for approving the schedule of posts of responsibility in a school. A draft schedule of posts of responsibility, to cater to the curriculum and organisational needs of the school, should be prepared by the principal, following appropriate consultation with the teaching staff, and this should be presented to the board of management for its approval – see Paragraph 7.1 in CL 15/97, Paragraph 6.1 in CL 43/00 and Paragraph 2 of Appendix One to CL 20/98.
11.School Attendance Strategies A board of management is required, after consultation with the principal, the teachers the parents and the relevant educational welfare officer, to prepare and submit to the NEWB (TUSLA) a statement of the strategies and measures it proposes to adopt for the purposes of fostering an appreciation of learning among students attending the school and encouraging regular attendance at school. This statement shall be included in the school/DEIS plan.
12. Child Protection and Anti-Bullying The board of management has very specific responsibilities regarding both of these matters. Child Protection
The board is required to formally adopt and implement the DES Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools as an integral element of the school’s overall Child Protection Policy.
The principal, at each board meeting must report on child protection issues in accordance with the provisions of the DES procedures.
The Board must formally review the school’s child protection policy annually and its implementation by the school.
The board is required to formally adopt and implement the DES Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools, as an integral element of the school’s overall antibullying policy.
At least once in every school term the principal must report to the board setting out the overall number of bullying cases reported since the previous report to the Board and confirmation that all reported cases have been or are being dealt with in accordance with the DES procedures.
The board of management must undertake an annual review of the school’s anti-bullying policy and its implementation by the school.