Thursday 22 March 2018

Inspectors under fire for publicly criticising principal

John Walshe Education Editor

DEPARTMENT of Education inspectors were yesterday criticised after rapping a principal on the knuckles for not keeping a school register for 10 years.

The register contains details of each pupil's name, address, date of birth, religion, annual school attendance record, parents' names and their occupations.

The register is in addition to two separate attendance rolls, which record the daily attendance for each class and for the school as a whole -- these were properly filled in by school Sn Coill Mor, Drummin, Westport, Co Mayo, over the 10-year period.

School principal Fine Gael councillor Teresa Maguire said last night there was no register when she took over as principal a decade ago and she did not realise one was necessary.

She only became aware of it before a school inspection last year, the results of which have just been published on the department's website.

"I said straight away 'hands up, I didn't keep a register'," she told the Irish Independent.

Now she is wondering if she is paying for her honesty as her school has been publicly criticised for not having the register. The school has since addressed the problem.

The register is kept on the school premises and is rarely consulted.

Ms Maguire said: "I found the inspection most stressful. We seem to be going down the UK route with all this paperwork in schools. Teachers now spend a third of our time making out plans, a third of our time writing down what we have done and a third of our time teaching."


The small, two-teacher school was praised for its strong culture of co-operation in the inspection report, which said that its 20 pupils were courteous, diligent and very well behaved.

Last night, the INTO said inspections like these were too pernickety. It described the rules on school registers and roll books as antiquated and probably illegal under modern data protection legislation.

"Schools are made to collect personal information that is not necessary and keep it for far longer than needed," an INTO spokesperson said.

The union also said the rules were not joined up.

"The school register doesn't take account of the revised curriculum.

"The National Education Welfare Board looks for different information to what a school has to keep in the roll book," it said.

Irish Independent

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