Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019: Committee Stage
Joe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
It is clear that the Senator's level of detail and experience on the whole issue of seclusion and restraint is really important. I take it from what she has said that a strong voice, which is focusing on what will and will not work, needs to be heard. This work will be presented to the education partners at the end of November, which is this month and not next month. It is a semi-formal environment. The primary forum is an example. There will be individual and group consultation. I know it will include the National Parents Council, for example. I take the Senator's point that there are experiences out there which need to be heard because they might help to signpost us in the right direction. I am happy to set up a meeting between my officials and the Senator. If she wants to bring in a few parents or teachers who have been involved in this area in the past, I will be happy to facilitate that. I thank the Senator.
I will not repeat the reasons I am not accepting these two amendments. I have highlighted those reasons. I would like to emphasise that the need for schools to provide key information about their policies, procedures and activities to students and parents and to consult students and parents on individual school plans is central to the charter approach in this Bill. A bottom-up approach will be taken after this legislation has been passed. Each school will have to develop its own policies within the guidelines. The voices of parents and students will have to be at the heart of that. They will want to know what the specific policies for that school are. In the legislative framework, we have presented an empowerment process for parents and students who feel they do not have a voice.We are all in unison in regard to ensuring we have the proper framework for that to materialise.