The Education Act states that the Patron of the school should carry out the function and exercise the powers conferred on the Patron by the Education Act and any such other functions and powers as may be conferred on the Patron by any act or instrument, deed, charter, articles of Management or such other instrument relating to the establishment or operation of the school.
(Section 8 (6)).Throughout the Act there is reference to a number of groups being consulted before decisions or procedures are put in place. Patrons are amongst the groups to be consulted. Section 14 sets out the duty of the Patron, for the purpose of ensuring that a school is managed in a spirit of partnership, to appoint a Board of Management. The Board has a duty to consult with the Patron in regard to procedures and must follow the directions of the Patron when appropriate.
The Board acts on behalf of the Patron in running the school and the Patron may, with the consent of the Minister, dissolve a Board or remove a member where the Board is failing to uphold the ethos of the school or where an individual member breaches the procedures. (Ref. Sections 14, 16 and 17 of the Education Act,1998.)
The Board of Management is to consult with the Patron before publishing any particular strategies or plans [section 15 (2)(c), in particular section 15(2)(d)], such as Admissions Policy and Code of Behavior. These items are subsumed within the development of the school plan described in section 21. The Patron is to be consulted about the preparation of the school plan which will set out the policy statement and strategies of the school.
Patrons will need to consider their own policies in regard to how they will assent to these items. School plans are very important not merely for the development and organisation of individual schools but could be referred to where parents make complaints about the school or where teachers have a grievance about their own employment or where the action of the school is challenged. The authority of an individual Board of Management derives from its appointment by the Patron (section 14 (1) ).
There has already been reference to the right of the Patron with the consent of the Minister to remove a member or to dissolve the Board of Management. More important, perhaps, should be the expectation that the Patron is to be supplied with information regarding the performance of the board‘s functions (section 19(4)).
At primary level a Patron has the right to consent or to withhold consent to the appointment of all members of the teaching staff. It is important that any selection Board is advised of the Patron‘s views in regard to any particular criteria for appointment. This is an important right and is underscored by the Patron‘s right to appoint to the selection. Patrons should seek formal written assurance from the selection Board and the Board of Management that the agreed procedures have been followed.