The Church of Ireland has a role in education in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland through its General Synod Board of Education and several related organisations which seek to support teachers,
parents and schoolchildren.
The aims of the General Synod Board of Education are, in pursuance of the missional role of the Church, to:
Define the policy of the Church in education, both religious and secular, and, in promotion of this policy, to take such steps as may be deemed necessary to co–ordinate activities in all fields of education affecting the interests of the Church of Ireland;
Maintain close contact with Government, Diocesan Boards of Education, and other educational and school authorities with a view to ascertaining the most efficient and economical use of resources including funds, transport facilities and teachers;
Support church–based religious education and faith development through liaison with such structures and bodies as shall be established by the Church of Ireland to further children’s ministry, youth ministry and Safeguarding;
Study any legislation or proposed legislation likely to affect the educational interests of the Church of Ireland and take such action with respect thereto as it may deem necessary;
Deliberate and confer on all educational matters affecting the interests of the Church;
Make such enquiries as it shall deem to be requisite and communicate with government authorities and all such bodies and persons as it shall consider necessary.
The Board of Education (Republic of Ireland) advises the General Synod of developments in educational policy, represents the Church as an educational partner to the Department of Education and other educational bodies,
and provides advice to school patrons and boards of management on the management of schools.
It also supports Religious Education in primary schools under Protestant management through the Follow Me programme, and co–ordinates and encourages participation in the Synod Examination in Religious Education. The Board facilitates Garda vetting of workers and volunteers in Church of Ireland primary schools and parishes.
News items for the Board of Education (RI) may be accessed by clicking here
The Board of Education (Northern Ireland) aims to develop, in conjunction with other churches, a clear and shared vision of education shaped by the core values of the Christian faith, and to seek continued curriculum support of the Religious Education core syllabus in schools.
It advises the General Synod of developments in educational policy in Northern Ireland and represents the Church as an educational partner to the Department of Education and other educational bodies.
The Board liaises with the Presbyterian and Methodist churches within the Transferor Representatives’ Council (TRC) in promoting the interests and safeguarding the rights of transferors, facilitates the nomination of transferor governors to controlled primary and secondary schools,
and makes submissions to relevant Government consultations. It also works with the Education Authority, the Controlled Schools’ Support Council, and institutions of higher education.
Transferor governors in controlled schools
Controlled schools are ‘church–related schools’ because in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist churches transferred (hence the origin of transferors) their school buildings, pupils and staff into state control on the understanding that the Christian ethos of these schools was maintained.
During the transfer process, the church leaders stressed that it was not simply buildings which were being transferred, but pupils, and a concept of education directly informed and shaped by Christian teaching and values.
In return for transferring their schools into state control, the transferor churches were accorded statutory rights of representation and secured legislative assurance in respect of the provision of religious education and daily collective worship in controlled schools. The relevant provisions are set out in the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 – Schedule 4 (for membership of boards of governors) and Part III, Section 21 (for religious education and daily collective worship).
The statutory rights accorded to the transferor churches and the consequent responsibilities placed upon the state combine to ensure the continued existence of a Christian ethos within controlled schools.
Serving as a governor
Being a governor is both a rewarding and challenging role. Governors are asked to attend meetings in their school on a regular basis. They will deal with all aspects of governance of the school, including finance, staffing issues, appointments, forward planning, safeguarding, complaints and inspections. The governance of a school is also subject to inspection by the Education and Training Inspectorate.
Outside the regular meetings, governors will be encouraged to be part of the life of the school and attend events and activities within the school. Transferor governors should participate fully in governor training, as provided by the Education Authority, the Controlled Schools’ Support Council and the TRC, and be thoroughly acquainted with the contents of the Guide for Governors produced by the Department of Education, and the department’s approved scheme of management for their school along with their school’s policies and procedures.
The role of a governor can be challenging and they may have to deal with specific and difficult issues within the school but as Christians we believe that service to the local community is a vital witness.
To find out more about being a governor, speak to your local rector or contact the Board of Education (NI) on 028 9082 8860.
News items for the Board of Education (NI) may be accessed by clicking here
Safeguarding Trust is the child protection policy for the Church of Ireland. Resources are available on our Safeguarding website: www.sgt.ireland.anglican.org
This project is the Religious Education Programme for National Schools in the Republic of Ireland under the patronage of the Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
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