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Legal & Governance

Given the tendency for litigation in modern society, the question of operating correctly within an ever increasing legalistic environment is a concern for all the partners in the education sector. An improper procedure in the appointment of school staff or in the suspension/ expulsion of a recalcitrant pupil can and does render the action invalid and necessitates the rescheduling of interview or disciplinary procedures. Other issues of concern in the education pyramid below are where the responsibility of each education partner begins and ends. Are there overlapping roles and duties or are they mutually exclusive?

Up to the passing of the Education Act 1998, the education sector was governed by a series of Ministerial orders and statutory instruments. Notwithstanding this, after more than a decade of legislation, there still exists a lack of clarity about the division of roles and responsibilities between Minister, Patron, Board and school. In particular:

  • Who is ultimately responsible for acts of malfeasance in a school?
  • Who is responsible if a school closes carrying a significant amount of debt?
  • Can a Board of Management go bankrupt and what are the implications for the members?
  • What is the implication of a claim for “failure to educate” by a pupil or former pupil?

Against this ongoing background, members of Boards of Management who provide community service by volunteering to act as members of the Boards in good faith should be provided with best guidance on their roles, responsibilities, exposures and available indemnities while acting as members of those Boards of Management. School management and staff should similarly be aware of their own particular role in the governance pyramid and the upward effect of actions or inactions by the school on their Boards and Patrons. Cú offers Board of Management independent training modules on Education law, good governance, roles, responsibilities and exposures of Boards and individual members, and available indemnities that may protect Boards and their members from litigation. This module can be delivered on site to individual Boards or to a number of Boards in a catchment area. Evening or Saturday sessions are available to facilitate Board members.

Board of Management Training Session

Good governance and the role and exposure of the Board and its members

Duration: Approximately 2 hours

Cost including materials:

  • €550 (1 Board)
  • €750 (2 Boards)
  • €950 (3 Boards) Max

This module can be delivered on site to individual Boards or to a number of Boards in a catchment area. Evening or Saturday sessions are available to facilitate Board members.


The selection of competent, qualified, experienced and suitable personnel for key senior management positions within the school is undoubtedly one of the most important functions any Board of Management can undertake during its tenure of office. Such critical decisions can and have affected the future direction of schools even to the point of the continued viability of the school itself. It is often the case that due to the importance of the process, the Trustees assume an active role in ensuring that procedures are carried through properly. Planning for the succession from one Principal to the next requires careful preparation by the Board of Management. The defined appointments procedures need to be carefully carried through from the initial selection of a competent and experienced selection committee, ensuring that it is properly constituted, defining a time line, drafting the advertisement that will send out the right message, establishing essential and desirable criteria to shortlist candidates, drafting the right interview questions to identify candidates strengths and weaknesses, crafting transparent marking schemes that will withstand scrutiny and possible audit, proper and fair recording of candidates performances, informing successful and unsuccessful candidates and proper filing to bring the process to a conclusion.

On more than one occasion in the past, appointments by a Board of Management have been successfully challenged by disappointed candidates due to failure to follow the proper selection procedures resulting in the embarrassment of the Board having to initiate the whole process from the very beginning. The credibility of the eventual successful candidate can be seriously damaged in such circumstances especially in the eyes of new colleagues, parents and students. It is essential that the Board takes steps from the outset to ensure that due and fair process occurs while ensuring the selection of the best available candidate. Indeed the overall process requires very careful attention to the human factor – to ensure all are treated with dignity and respect.

Cúram personnel are highly experienced in taking charge and overseeing the appointments process. They have acted for schools across all sectors over a number of years. The following would represent a typical brief in project managing an appointments process:

  • Meeting the existing Board in outlining the detailed nature of the process and their legal obligations under
  • Employment Equality Act 1998
  • Equal Status act 2000
  • Data Protection Act 2003
  • Meeting with staff and facilitating a needs analysis of the school
  • Interface with the Trustees and Legal Patrons and addressing the particular appointment requirements of each sector
  • Draft a project time line
  • Draft and place the advertisement
  • Draft a suitable application form
  • Ensure a properly constituted selection committee (in addition ensuring gender balance)
  • Ensuring confidentiality in the issuing and receipt of application form
  • Defining essential and desirable criteria for the short listing
  • Essential declaration of conflicts of interest by the selection committee in the event of a professional or personal relationship with any of the short listed candidates
  • Arranging suitable venue for the interview process
  • Defining suitable questions to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates
  • Drafting headings and marking schemes to benchmark the candidates
  • Ensuring that the selection committee are performing so that engaging with the candidates is even, fair, consistent and at the highest level for all short listed candidates
  • Collate and retain the marking sheets
  • Convene a ratification meeting of the Board of Management and ensure that informing the successful and unsuccessful candidates is properly and sensitively carried out
  • Arranging for communication to the school community, the Trustees/Legal Patron and the Department of Education and Science
  • Drafting the contract of employment using a competent and experienced legal firm and arranging signing and retention of same
  • File retention ensuring compliance with the Data Protection Act

Fees for overseeing and taking charge of the above process, or parts thereof, depend on time incurred and skill required and is agreed individually in advance with the person/body that commissions the task. Cú also provide seminars in this area on a regional basis.

Contact Curam for more information...


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