One of the many things I can’t understand about the Department of Education is how they are still getting away with having no responsibility for what happens in schools. The whole “providing for education” rather than “providing education” just doesn’t cut it when every week, at least one circular on average is published, which forces schools to do something new.
I know the idea behind it is to create this buffer zone to allow a patronage system, something that I also argue shouldn’t need to exist, but anyway, that is well covered in other articles here as well as my many tirades on social media.
For the purposes of this article, if the DES can produce circulars that force schools to change their practices, surely it makes sense for the DES to provide schools with standardised policies. Obviously, given the system we have, there would need to be some flexibility in so far as schools could adapt them, but the general template should be developed by the DES.
This would reduce a huge amount of workload for Boards of Management (actually, principals!) and there would be little confusion in terms of how things generally work in schools. Things like enrolment policies can easily be standardised, complaints procedures, dignity at work guidelines, healthy eating, Internet AUPs, equality of access, data protection, and so on.
There is precedence for this as the Anti-bullying guidelines and the latest Child Protection guidelines show. These were sent to schools to implement and there was little wriggle room for interpretation. Where there was room for personalisation, this was covered in the templates.
The obvious danger of this is that it takes away some autonomy from schools but how much autonomy do we really need in basic procedures?