Election 2014

On May 6th 2010 Jim Moore, Chairman of Wexford County Council launched the discussion document, ‘Positioning Wexford for the Upturn’ by Julie O Neill, former Secretary General at the Department of Transport.

Last week Jim, as President of NPCpp and with the executive members organised a first ever national conference for parent’s representatives in the Department of Education & Skills.


NPC Conference 2010

National Parents Council post primary

Annual Conference April 2010
Celebrating 25 years National Parents Organisation

“Empowering parents – Risk or Opportunity?”

address by Jim Moore, President NPCpp.

Welcome on Day 2

Secretary General of DES, Public Representatives, Invited Guests, fellow Parents and members,

On behalf of our National Organisation for Parents in Post Primary Education I extend a warm welcome to our celebration of 25 years of NPCpp.  I acknowledge the DES and their ongoing support for this organisation throughout those 25 years. In particular you, Secretary General, for the interest you show in the activities and development of NPCpp and especially I wish to acknowledge the assistance you and your Department have given us in organising this particular celebration.

Past Presidents
I extend a special welcome to the former leaders of this organisation whose vision, enthusiasm and hard work enabled us to arrive at this milestone in the representation of the interests of all Parents of children in post primary schools in Ireland.  You are indeed pioneers in every sense of the word, particularly in social and educational fields.  It is interesting to note that at the time you embarked on the creation of this organisation in 1985 there were –
  • No mobile phones, I pods
  • No internet, no intranet, no emails
  • No video conferencing nor power points
  • Meeting up with one another was done without motorways, neither M or N roads
  • A bypass was a new medical term for a major medical operation and nothing to do with getting to a meeting of Volunteers at week-ends

While none of these modernities were available to you at the time, you did possess that crucial ingredient that has inspired the members ever since then
  • A vision for the education and well being of our children
  • The provision of a quality education system for all our children and an enthusiasm to be part of that development

You demonstrated leadership in your activities, in a spirit of voluntary enthusiasm.  Our celebration here this weekend is not by accident and on behalf of all parents I thank you all for your efforts.

The Irish Education System and Irish society itself has experienced dramatic change since post primary parents began to organise ourselves nationally.   
We see the creation of the National Parents Council post primary in 1985 as a first step in developing formal parental involvement leading to the Education Act of 1998.  Intermediate steps, including Green Paper ‘92 and White Paper ’95, are littered with strong recommendations of partnership with the essential features of a “bottom up” approach. Declarations that parents are “full partners in the consultative process” were heralded.  Roles and functions of Boards of Management’s and their responsibilities in the processes of management were also set out.

Parent bodies pursued these issues and throughout the Education Act the role of parent’s as a full partner is integral.

The Education Act 1998 states that
“ensure that the education system is accountable to students, their parents and the state….. and is conducted in a spirit of partnership….”

We as parents are entitled to query how serious is this spirit of partnership?
1.    how easy is it for parental issues to be put on the agendas of BOM meetings
2.    do all schools hold BOM meeting at times that enable parents to attend
3.    are parents aware of the channels open to them to question or appeal issues
4.    how many schools have parents as Chairpersons of BOM’s

There is also the ‘fear factor’ of strong parent representation.  All too often the parents are seen as fundraisers in the school community.

NPCpp Vision
In line with the provisions of the 1998 Education Act NPCpp set about developing a vision of a National Representative Organisation for the 21st century as stated in Our Strategic Development Plan.

NPCpp aims to provide a forum that actively supports parents and guardians in their parenting role and to interact effectively with schools and other education partners on issues that impact on the education, development and general well-being of young people within the post-primary education system.

NPCpp has set out a mission statement as to what art the aims of parents nationally.
  • Have and effective Parents Association in place in every school
  • Communicate with all parents and guardians of young people in post-primary education
  • Support parents and guardians in being active partners in education
  • Challenge parents and guardians to participate
  • Provide a structure through which parents and guardians can inform and influence policy development
  • Take an active role in influencing policy at a national level
  • Build strong partnerships with key stakeholders

In each of these ambitions there are challenges for us all whether we are involved at local school or national level.

e.g. convincing the school community of the benefits, indeed the requirements, to develop an effective Parents Association.

  • NPCpp has established a current database as well as issuing regular newsletters available to all members.
  • NPCpp wishes to offer support, training and advice to all parents/guardians of students but we need to be resourced in order to do this
  • The role of parental participation in the school community is essential and again NPCpp wishes to do more.
  • NPCpp has representation on a variety of agencies and committees.  This is done by volunteers at the moment which again is a great commitment.
  • The creation of PPEF (Post Primary Education Forum) is a very important Forum to work with our Partners.  This requires continued development at local level for the benefit of all involved in education of our young people.

NPCpp Structure.

There are five constituent bodies which make up NPCpp and each constituent body puts forward four nominees to act as directors and their remit is to manage the affairs and develop future strategies for one National Parents Council post primary. This is done as volunteers and I commend those who continue to give of their time and energy on behalf of us all.
The Organisation has a Strategic Development Plan, endorsed by all constituent members and in the shared interest of Parents and put forward in a cohesive manner.
Regular representation is sought by the DES and other important Education agencies seeking the views of Parents. Again this is carried out on a voluntary basis, involving taking time off work, etc. Details of many of these agencies are described in the information packs you have received today.
Supporting parents with the Helpline at Leaving Certificate examination/result time continues to be a very important part of NPCpp activities. Last year there were over 3000 queries dealt with on the Helpline.
Another important development undertaken by NPCpp has led to the formation of the PPEF, at the end of 2007. This is the first time in Irish Education history that Parents, Management Bodies and Teacher Unions have come together in such a manner. This initiative has been led by Parents. The Forum provides an opportunity for all of the named parties to address common issues and to establish a shared viewpoint on priorities for the future development of the second-level education sector.

Education Matters.

NPCpp has made representations to the DES and the Minister in relation to a range of cutbacks implemented over the last while.

Moratorium: this represents a major problem for schools given the number of vacant posts of responsibility in so many. The ability of each school to provide adequate pastoral care as well as other management functions is a serious threat. I again call on the Minister and the DES to implement some corrective action as soon as possible.

Pupil/teacher ratio: Parents concern on this issue has been expressed particularly in relation to the subject choice available and each school’s ability to offer our children the range of subjects in these times.

School Book Grants: The loss of this support has created major difficulties for hard pressed parents. But NPCpp has long campaigned for all schools to provide a Book Loan Scheme. A further example of where a strong well resourced parents Organisation could ably assist the school management.

Third Level Fees: another concern of parents who are committed to the education of their children and equipping them adequately for their future.

Project Maths: the introduction and the promotion of this important new syllabus which will be delivered in all post primary schools and more work needs to done to inform parents.

Junior Cycle: the review is under way and parents are being asked to be involved in the research involved in defining its future.

SNA’s: the issue of how our children with special needs can be integrated in the daily classroom activity and the resourcing of our schools to adequately deal with all of our children with dignity.


Head shops:

Drug awareness:

Future NPCpp.
In practical terms NPCpp has set about implementing its plan within its meager resources. We operate with present grant which has remained unchanged in 8-9 years from which we fund a part-time administrator from our office, and some funding to constituent bodies to assist in parents work.

NPCpp have discussed resourcing of our plan with DES officials on a number of occasions while exploring different options to resource this essential activity. We are now seeking funding of the order of €70, 000 to facilitate the start up of the process. In parallel with this initiative we are calling on the DES to lead and promote affiliation process whereby €1 per student is levied by each school. Parents already subscribe to school budgets and €1 per student seems reasonable to us.

In recent times NPCpp has undertaken considerable voluntary work in strengthening our organisation in particular training, communications and affiliations. The training, ‘train the trainer’ programme for parents is being delivered through 12 centres / schools nationally up to this summer. As well as developing a national database we distributed regular newsletters, highlighting our activities and providing valuable information to parents in our schools.

What can we do?

This proposal provides NPCpp with the opportunity to develop an effective, sustainable national organisation, as well as playing a more effective role in school communities. We can promote parental responsibilities, rights, support students throughout their second level education and promote the future development of a quality education system for our children. The ongoing voluntary work of parents should be seen not only for what we do but more importantly what we can do when the required resources are put in place.
Schools and Education in 2010 are complex matters and require that all Partners play their roles fully. Parents are now requesting that the DES take our role seriously and release funds to back this initiative. The education system in Ireland is fortunate in that there is huge goodwill towards it which is great asset.
Now is the time to devote our efforts to release the capacity of parents to contribute to the reservoir of talent and civic commitment available to us.

In conclusion ladies and gentleman I earnestly believe that the time has come for Parents to realize their role in post primary education and I say to you and our Partners to Empower parents and seize the opportunity .

Go raibh maith agaibh go leir.

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