Parent association guidelines:

Description of Parents Association:

The parent association is the structure through which parents in a school can work together for the best possible education for their children. The parent association works with the principal, staff and the board of management to build effective partnership between the home and school. Partnership between the home and school is important because with positive and active partnership the child gets the best that primary education can offer.


The Education Act, 1998 sets down the role of the parent association.

Under the Education Act, 1998

Section 26.

(1) The parents of students of a recognised school may establish, and maintain from among their number, a parents’ association for that school and membership of that association shall be open to all parents of students of that school.

(2) A parents’ association shall promote the interests of the students in a school in co-operation with the board, Principal, teachers and students of a school and for that purpose may –
(a) advise the Principal or the board on any matter relating to the school, and the Principal or board, as the case may be, shall have regard to any such advice and
(b) adopt a programme of activities which will promote the involvement of parents, in consultation with the Principal, in the operation of the school

(3) The board shall promote contact between the school, parents of students in that school and the community and shall facilitate and give all reasonable assistance to parents who wish to establish a parents’ association and to a parents’ association when it is established.

(4) (a) A parents’ association shall, following consultation with its members, make rules governing its meetings and the business and conduct of its affairs.
(b) Where a parents’ association is affiliated to a national association of parents, the rules referred to in paragraph (a) shall be in accordance with guidelines issued by the national association of parents with the concurrence of the Minister.


The Parent Association works with the principal, staff and the board of management to build effective partnership of home and school.

Educational research on the involvement of parents in schools shows that children achieve higher levels when parents and teachers work together.

The Parent Association can advise the principal and Board of Management on policy issues and incidents that may require a review of school policy, e.g. Bullying, Safety, Homework, Enrolment, Behaviour problems etc.

Parent Associations can suggest and/or organise extra-curricular activities.

The Parent Association is a support for parents in the school.

The Parent Association can invite speakers to address the parents on issues which are topical or relevant.

The Parent Association is not a forum for complaint against either an individual teacher or parent. The Complaints Procedure is the mechanism for this.

For further information on Parent Associations please see “Working Effectively as a Parent Association”, guidelines which are available from National Parents Council Primary.

Board of Management:


Primary schools are not obliged to have boards of management.

“The patron of the school has the right to decide whether or not to have one. In practice, most primary schools do. Under the Education Act 1998, the patron is obliged ‘for the purposes of ensuring that a recognised school is managed in a spirit of partnership’ to appoint, where practicable, a board of management. The composition of the board of management is to be agreed between school patrons, national associations of parents, school management organisations, teacher representatives and the Minister for Education and Skills.The board is appointed by the patron. In making appointments, the patron must comply with Ministerial directions about gender balance. If the patron decides that it is not practicable to appoint a board, he/she must give reasons to the parents, teachers, staff and the Minister but he/she cannot be forced to appoint one.

The Rules also frequently refer to the need to communicate with parents and staff and the school community, for example, they state that the board ‘shall pursue a policy of openness and have a positive approach to sharing information with the school community’.

The board must have a procedure for informing parents about its activities – this could include an annual report. An  information manual for boards of management (pdf) is available on the website of the Department of Education and Skills.


Functions of the board

The board’s main function is to manage the school on behalf of the patron and for the benefit of the students and to provide an appropriate education for each student at the school.

In carrying out its functions, the board must

Act in accordance with Ministerial policy

Uphold the ethos of the school and be accountable to the patron for this. The word ethos is not used in the Education Act 1998. It is described in the Act as the ‘characteristic spirit of the school as determined by the cultural, educational, moral, religious, social, linguistic and spiritual values and traditions which inform and are characteristic of the objectives and conduct of the school’.

Act in accordance with the law and with any deed, charter, or similar instrument relating to the school.

Consult with and inform the patron of decisions and proposals

Publish the school’s policy on admission to and participation in the school, including its policy on expulsion and suspension of students, admission and participation by students with disabilities or with other special educational needs

Ensure that the school’s admissions policy respects the choices of parents and the principles of equality and that it complies with Ministerial directions, having regard to the school ethos and the constitutional rights of all concerned

Have regard for the principles and requirements of a democratic society and promote respect for the diversity of values, beliefs, traditions, languages and ways of life in our society

Have regard to the efficient use of resources (particularly the grants provided by the State), the public interest in the affairs of the school and accountability to students, parents and the community

Use the resources provided by the State to make reasonable provision and accommodation for students with disabilities or special needs, including, if necessary, the adaptation of buildings or provision of special equipment

Who is on the board

The composition of the board of management for schools with more than one teacher is
Two direct nominees of the patron
Two parents of children enrolled in the school (one mother and one father) elected by the parents
The principal
One other teacher elected by the teaching staff.
Two extra members agreed by the representatives of the patron, teachers and parents.

Activities of the board
Essentially, the board manages the school. Among other things:
It has responsibility for drawing up the school plan and for ensuring that it is implemented. (guidelines for primary schools on school development planning (pdf) are found on the website of the Department of Education and Skills website.)

It appoints the principal, the teachers and other staff.

It must ensure that the school fulfils its functions as set out in the Education Act 1998.

It must promote contact between the school, the parents and the community and must facilitate and give all reasonable help to a parents’ association in its formation and its activities.

It has overall responsibility for the school’s finances. It is obliged to have comprehensive insurance cover for the school. It must keep proper accounts, which may be audited by the Department of Education and Skillsa and/or the Comptroller and Auditor General. Its annual accounts must be available to the patron and the school community.

Term of office of the board

The term of office for a board is 4 years and members can hold office only for 4 years although members are eligible for reappointment when their term of office expires.


School Policies & Procedures

All Boards of Managment are obliged to adopt and maintain both administrative and curricular policies and procedures for their school. Curricular policies refer to the content and teaching of each curricular subject while  administrative policies cover such areas as:

Admissions Policy,

Homework Policy,

Complaints Procedure,

Code of Behaviour & Discipline,

Special Education Needs,

Bullying among pupils,

Child protection,

Health & Safety,

Religious Instruction.

Copies of any of the above policies can be requested by parents from the school.


Standardised Tests

All primary schools are required by the Department of Education and Skills (Circular  0056/2011) to administer standardised tests. Arrangements for standardised testing are set out below.

English medium schools are required to administer standardised testing in English reading and Mathematics during the period May/June for all students in 2nd, 4th and 6th classes on an annual basis with effect from 2012 onwards. These tests are used to measure a child’s reading and mathematical achievement (at a National level), and to determine children’s progress in those areas. Information from the tests is important given the vital role of literacy and numeracy in enabling children to access the full curriculum. Further information on Standardised Tests is available from the National Council for Curriculum & Assessment.