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The case for a Learners' Charter is evident and urgent

The Post-Primary Education Forum (PPEF) was founded in 2007 to provide a coherent voice on second-level education in Ireland; a coherent voice based on the accumulated experience and knowledge of those most closely involved in the system on a daily basis – in other words, parents, teachers and school leaders and managers.

From the outset, a core objective of the PPEF was to look beyond the immediate and draw attention to issues that are central to a long-term view and understanding of where second-level education in Ireland should be heading.

Unfortunately, economic realities changed and much of the forum's work has been reactive in nature – dealing with cuts in the education budget and the consequent negative impact on our children's education.

However, despite this focus, we have not lost sight of our long-term objective of fostering a serious debate about the future direction of second-level education in Ireland.

To this end, the partners in the PPEF have been working on "A 2020 Vision for Education", which I believe to be a cogent and thoughtful (and hopefully thought-provoking) examination of what is needed in our schools for the next decade or so.

The document, launched yesterday, sets out our vision of what needs to be done and contains 13 recommendations we hope will be taken up and acted on by the political system.

As a parent, I am very happy to see the central focus of second-level students in the document and in the recommendations. The first recommendation calls for a Learners' Charter, the case for which is both evident and urgent.

This charter would set out minimum rights for students in relation to such areas as curriculum, student voice and welfare, teaching and learning and resources.

Among the other recommendations is a call for a commitment to increase investment in education in this country to 7.5pc of GDP and to maintain investment at that level as a minimum.

Other recommendations cover such areas as inclusivity, ICT delivery, special educational needs and the status of teaching. We are also calling for a Green Paper on Education charting the system for the next 10 to 15 years.

However, it is not enough for the Government to look into its own heart in order to produce such a Green Paper; it must precede such an initiative with widespread consultation with those most directly involved in the delivery of that education: parents, teachers, students and school management – in other words, those of us who make up the PPEF.

The vision we articulate is important in that it gives voice to the concerns of those operating at the frontline in second-level schools.

It is important that the education debate in Ireland does not become the exclusive property of business interests and of economists.

Students and their experiences must remain at the heart of the discussion about educational experience, and that education must be as broad and as fulfilling as we can possibly make it.

Jim Moore is former president of the Post-Primary Education Forum.

Irish Independent