Parents are partners and stakeholders in the school. They can and should contribute to the school plan, school policies and pupils’ curriculum experiences. Research shows that parental involvement in their children’s education positively affects the child’s performance at school. The impact is the same regardless of ethnic background, family income, maternal level of education, or child’s gender.
“The school is regarded as an extension of the home and an active partnership between parents and teachers makes this a reality, especially in the eyes of the young child, who is the central figure. Research shows that parental interests and attitudes to school, to books and to education are the single most important influence on a child’s learning.” (from Parents’ Associations – Making Them Work, NPC-P))
In addition to section 26 Education Act 1998, the relationship between parents and the school is referenced in several other sections of the 1998 Act. In particular, it should be noted that the school is required to:
- Promote the moral, spiritual, social and personal development of students and provide health education for them, in consultation with their parents, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school. Section 9(d).
- Ensure that arrangements are made for parents to meet class teachers on a regular basis. Parents will naturally be concerned about the welfare and progress of their own children. They are entitled to have access to records kept by the school relating to the progress and education of their child. (Education Act 1998 Section 9(g)).
- Ensure that parents of a student, or in the case of a student who has reached the age of 18 years, the student, have access in the prescribed manner to records kept by that school relating to the progress of that student in her/his education. Section 9(g).
- Manage the school on behalf of the Patron and for the benefit of the students and their parents and to provide or cause to be provided an appropriate education for each student at the school for which that Board has responsibility. Section 15(i).
- Publish, in such manner as the Board with the agreement of the Patron considers appropriate, the policy of the school concerning admission to and participation in the school, including the policy of the school relating to the expulsion and suspension of students and admission to and participation by students with disabilities or who have other special educational needs, and ensure that as regards that policy, principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents’ choice are respected and such directions as may be made from time to time by the Minister, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school and the constitutional rights of all persons concerned, are complied with. Section 15(2) (d).
- Make available to the parents the annual certified accounts of monies received from the Oireachtas and the expenditure of same. Section 18.
A Board shall establish procedures for informing the parents of students in the school of matters relating to the operation and performance of the school and such procedures may include the publication and circulation to parents, teachers and other staff and a student council where one has been established 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 provided for under section 21. Section 20.
- The school plan shall be prepared in accordance with such directions, including directions relating to consultation with the parents, the patron, staff and students of the school, as may be given from time to time by the Minister in relation to school plans. Section 21.
- A Board shall make arrangements for the circulation of copies of the school plan to the patron, parents, teachers and other staff of the school. Section 21(4).