Ombudsman for Children welcomes proposed Parent and Student Charters for schools

Richard Bruton published a draft bill today, which will require schools to consult with students and parents

Ombudsman for Children welcomes proposed Parent and Student Charters for schools

Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon. Image: RollingNews.ie

The Ombudsman for Children has welcomed proposed new legislation to introduce Parent and Student Charters in schools around the country.

Richard Bruton today published the draft bill, which will require every school to consult with parents and students to develop a charter.

The charters will be required to include measures to publish financial statements (including information on how voluntary contributions are used), mechanisms to deal with complaints, and provide 'better' information on school admission policies & extracurricular activity.

Minister Bruton said he believes the move will see disputes and complaints dealt with locally and in an effective manner - as well as allowing for the Ombudsman to get involved when necessary.

He said he hopes "a new culture of partnership emerges from the publication of this charter".

Children's Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon said: "A Parent and Student Charter will present an opportunity to develop a culture of participation where children and young people are active contributors in school-based decision making, encouraging a child-centred approach.

“While schools will be required to have procedures to deal with complaints as part of the Charter, I am also very encouraged that the focus of these proposals is to foster a culture of change within school communities so as to prevent grievances from arising," he added.

However, Minister Bruton has been criticised by the Opposition for his unveiling of the draft bill.

Fianna Fáil's Education Spokesperson Thomas Byrne said: “It’s obvious that Minister Bruton is desperately spinning to try and distract from the great uncertainty which surrounds Junior Cert assessment. The Minister should be focused on addressing parent and student concerns instead of taking to the airwaves to discuss a Bill which is not yet even written."