Wednesday, 22 February 2017
Department of Education and Skills
Schools Complaints Procedures
105. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the appointment of an ombudsman to oversee and monitor the behaviour and actions of boards of management of national schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8943/17]
My Department's role is to clarify for parents how their grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed. If a parent wishes to make a complaint against a teacher or a school they should contact the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies. Where a parent feels that the school's board of management has failed to investigate or adequately investigate their complaint, they should contact the Ombudsman for Children.
The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints in relation to schools provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action of the school has had a negative impact on a child. The office can be contacted at Ombudsman for Children's Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin1, (Ph) 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 8656800, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
On 5 December 2016, I published the General Scheme of an Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill 2016. The Government have approved the draft outline of a new law, which will require every school to consult with parents and students, and publish and operate a Parent and Student Charter.
The publication of this draft legislation will fulfil a key commitment in the Action Plan for Education to improve information and complaint procedures for parents and students relating schools. The draft legislation defines the principles that will guide how schools will engage with students and parents.
Following consultation with our education partners, including the National Parents Council (Primary), National Parents Council (Post Primary) and the Irish Second-level Students Union, I will finalise national guidelines on a Parent and Student Charter.
The draft Bill has now gone to the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills for pre-legislative scrutiny. On 12 December 2016, I wrote to the Chairperson of the Committee requesting that the Committee might consider carrying out pre-legislative scrutiny on the General Scheme of an Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill simultaneously with Deputy Jim Daly's Private Members Bill regarding the establishment of an Ombudsman for Education.