TD calls for Education Ombudsman

Nowhere to go for 95% of parents’ complaints.

Fine Gael Cork South West TD and Vice Chairman of the Oireachtas Education Committee, Jim Daly, has repeated his calls for the creation of a new role of Education Ombudsman, to ensure proper administration of our schools.

“There is an urgent need for the creation of a new role of Education Ombudsman in order to ensure proper administration of our schools. Further to investigating and monitoring this issue for the past two years, I have this week written to the Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan TD, outlining the need for such a role.

“While I appreciate the excellent work of the Ombudsman for Children in protecting and improving the welfare of our children, I am not convinced this Ombudsman should also oversee the education sector as it makes the remit far too wide and one office cannot adequately oversee it. I find the current recourse available to parents with a grievance towards school management completely inadequate. This situation, coupled with confirmation to me from the Department of Education at an Oireachtas Education committee meeting that they have no role in investigating complaints is a serious concern.

“Of the 9,000 complaints received by the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) since its inception, 4,000 related to education. Of these 4,000 complaints, 75% were considered outside of the remit of the OCO. Of the remaining 1,000, the OCO informed me that only a very small number progress to investigation. This shows a clear need for a separate office of Education Ombudsman to deal with the education related complaints that currently have no home.

“As a former school principal and board of management member I know that parents do not complain to the OCO on a whim, so it is of huge importance that we ensure these complaints are dealt with adequately. I also know that the vast majority of boards of management work well, but for the minority that do not this is a very serious issue. An Ombudsman for Education is the only way to address the situation. It would ensure that this last bastion of society to remain unchecked would finally have a higher authority and no longer be a law unto itself.”