2007 AGM Minutes
The meeting was opened by Tom Walsh who welcomed everybody and thanked them for attending.
The first speaker was Noel Merrick of the Joint Managerial Board.
Noel explained that the JMB is a mixture of Catholic and Protestant schools working together.
Noel said that education is always the first to loose funding when times get tough, 27% of funding in schools is voluntary.
He also said that the teacher/pupil ratio has not improved. No matter what way the government tweek the figures, he said that underperforming teachers must be helped or go further if the problem cant be fixed.
Noel spoke about the need for Chaplains in all schools.
Post primary forum – proposals for Government from teachers, unions, parents and everybody concerned with the education of children.
Noel felt that middle grade students get no help, he said that we need a single voice for Catholic education and in early May a Pastoral on Catholic Education will be published.
Noel finished by saying that there has been a great success within our schools, we have great kids with huge qualities, we must put value on the pupils.
Sean O’Briain thanked Noel and wished him success in the future.
Our second speaker was Frank Smith
Frank spoke about the difference in schools since he last taught 7 years ago:
* Schools so busy
* So much extra work for teachers
* Extra curriculum activities suffering due to time shortages
* So many legal implications
* Lack of language support for non nationals
On the positive side he said that:
* The applied leaving cert has been a huge success
* The better involvement of parents in the child’s education
* He would like parents and children at parents/teacher meetings
Frank’s gave out a booklet with the main topics which are a concerning parents and information on other topics which will be discussed later.
Frank talked about the Board of Management, Parents Councils and the Principals.
Frank went into great detail about the published policies and the codes of behaviour etc, and the curriculum, he also explained that schools must keep account and that the accounts are available to parents.
Frank also said that there should be a partnership between the Board, Parents Council and the Students Council, as the NPC does not have power on a day today basis.
Interesting points were raised from the floor
One parent asked:
What files has each school got on the students and what is available to parents?
Another parent said:
When a topic is brought up at P.C. meetings they are told that it “is outside the remit of the Council”
Another parent suggested that a mini report be sent home every month or two so that parents have a current feedback.
One parent spoke about the school evaluation and said that the inspectors only wanted their questions answered and they would not answer questions from parents.
Our first speaker after lunch was Sean O’Briain, St Helens Education Office.
Sean gave a lovely talk about ERST coming into being in Sept 2008, how it will be made up of 9 members and 6 directors with a member and a director being a Brother. He explained that a Chief Executive would be employed and he or she will work with the schools on a day today basis.
The ERST education office would be there to assist Board of Management liase with schools, Parents Councils and make proposals.
Sean also spoke about the Christian Brothers working for social justice ann working with marginalized people, working in the missions abroad and third level education and research. The new European Province is in Marino. Co. Dublin.
Sean finished by saying that speakers are available to talk about the Charter if Parent Councils are interested.
Michael Doyle of the National Welfare Board spoke about the importance of pupils going to school.
He explained what happens if pupils stop attending or keep missing school and how he goes about trying to sort out the problem. He said that non attendance can relate to something wrong within the family, parents not coping. He said contact is made with the HSE and whoever else needs to be contacted.
Michael said all schools have been given guidelines on reporting absences, schools are obliged to report suspensions if over 6 days.
He also spoke about section 29 of the Education Act
2. Refusal to enrol
3. Suspension over 20 days
Frank then spoke about the amendments to section 29
1. The educational interest of the student concerned
2. Education interests of, and the effective provision of education for other students
3. The safety, health and welfare of teachers, students and staff of the school.
All schools will be issued with these new guidelines.
A copy of the new book was given to Tom.
Frank finished by saying that “good behaviour should be acknowledged”
Humphrey spoke next.
He gave a short talk on parents involvement on Parent Councils and that we must try to get a stronger voice to go forward and be represented.
Nominations for a new council were taken from the floor and the first meeting to form same takes place in early May.