Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019: Committee Stage
Joe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
I thank the Senator for the amendment which would require the Minister, when preparing the charter guidelines, to have regard to the need for a school to have adequate personnel, financial and time resources in order to implement the provisions of the Bill. I repeat again that a lot of schools are doing very well with reference to what we are trying to do through a legislative framework. Many are already operating within constraints in doing administrative work. At the same time, given that the vast majority of schools have their own open, transparent policies and do not require extra financial resources or personnel, the Bill is not about creating an additional workload for school principals or boards; rather, it is about supporting them to ensure there will be better and more meaningful engagement between a school and its students and their parents.As I said, many schools already do this really well. This will benefit the students and parents concerned, as well as the teachers, principal and management of the school. Its aim is to help improve the overall culture and climate of the school, ensure the concerns are addressed early and that recourse to grievance procedures is greatly reduced and, where used, it is very much a last resort.
This particular amendment would fundamentally undermine the overall approach of this Bill, which is to ensure every school has and operates a charter in accordance with national charter guidelines. As I already outlined, it is intended that the national charter guidelines, which will only be developed following consultation with educational stakeholders, will be practical and user-friendly, and that their development and implementation will not create a significant administrative burden on schools but will instead provide a clear workable and practical roadmap for schools. For the reasons I have set out, I cannot accept the amendment.