Ireland’s legal recognition of parents as partners
The Education Act of 1998 emphasises that education in Ireland involves a partnership among many stakeholders, including parents. The Act specifies that parents have the right to be consulted and informed of all aspects of their child’s education, and schools are required to involve parents in school planning. Schools are also required to have parents as members of the management board. The Act specifies parents’ responsibilities as: ‘to nurture a learning environment, co-operate with and support the school and other individual partners, and fulfill their special role in the development of the child’.
Irish legislation acknowledged and promoted the role of parents in the education system prior to the 1998 Act, as well. The Irish Constitution of 1937 recognises parents as a child’s primary educator. The 1975 change in the administrative structure of national schools included the indication that at least two parents of the children enrolled in a primary school serve on the school’s board of management; and the Parents as Partners in Education circular of 1991 requires all post-primary schools to ensure that a parents’ association is formed in the school and encourages this association to join the national network.
Nearly every primary and post-primary school in Ireland now has parent representatives on its board of management.