The exclusion of school secretaries, and other non-teaching staff, from schools boards of management has been criticised at IMPACT’s education division conference in Cork.
Maria Dunne, chair of IMPACT’s School Secretaries branch, told delegates at the IMPACT divisional conference in Cork that the entire school community is not reflected in the composition of schools boards of management, because non-teaching staff are excluded.
“A school is not a building or a place that children spend a few hours every day. A school is a community of people who make a vital daily contribution to the life of the school.
“They provide children with an environment in which to learn, to develop their social skills, to find their voice, and to take their first steps into a bigger world. It works because we all work together.
“However, the entire school community is not reflected in the composition of our schools boards of management. Non-teaching staff are excluded. Their voice is not heard at management level, their insights and contribution to the life of a school receive no recognition,” she said.
Maria added, “Too many of my colleagues, many of whom have pursued higher education in addition to their years of experience, are treated as second class citizens in the schools where they work.
“An example of that treatment can be seen in the large number of school secretaries who were denied the 2.5% increase due to them following our successful arbitration in 2015. Earlier this week I spoke to no less than four secretaries still denied the payment to which every one of us is entitled. You wouldn’t do that to a school teacher.
“Colleagues, it is my belief that schools lose out as a result of the exclusion of non-teaching staff from school boards of management. At their best, schools work because of how the entire school community works together, listens to each other, respects one another and recognises each other’s contribution.
“When non-teaching staff are left out of the picture, respect and recognition – and a potentially valuable contribution – are lost to the life from the school.”
Maria said, “IMPACT wants to change that. The legislation under which these boards are composed has been in place for almost 20 years. What we seek is a progressive change to that legislation, so that we can play a fuller role in the communities to which we’ve dedicated our work.”
The motion was unanimously backed by conference delegates. The conference concludes tomorrow (Friday 21st April).