Department of Education no longer recognises parents’ organisation after it refuses to engage in review

The Department of Education has withdrawn recognition from the National Parents’ Council Post Primary (NPCPP), after the body declined to engage with an independent financial and governance review.

he department confirmed the move to Independent.ie, and it follows a decision late last year to withhold funding from the organisation.

It means the organisation has lost its status as an “education partner”, which gave it an influential place at the table in consultations on key issues affecting students undertaken by the department.

Much of NPCPP’s funding comes from the department. According to an audited financial statement for the year ending August 2021, it had an income of €228,709 that year and expenditure of €192,831. It reported a retained surplus of €129,425.

The National Parents Council Primary (NPC), a separate organisation, is taking over the functions of the NPCPP, at the request of the department.

In a statement, the department said it had awarded a publicly tendered contract to consultancy firm, Governance Ireland, to conduct a review of the governance and financial arrangements currently applying in the NPCPP and to make observations and recommendations.

“The NPCPP’s board has declined to engage with this review process. In these circumstances the department is of the view that to make any further grant payments at this point in time would be a breach of its obligations and has formally notified NCPPP of its decision to cease provision of funding to NPCPP,” it stated

The statement added that the department had also advised the NPCPP that it was “no longer a body recognised under” the Education Act 1988.

“The department sincerely regrets the situation which has now arisen directly as a result of the actions of the Board of the NPCPP,” the statement added.

It added that parent councils or associations in schools were not impacted by this decision.

“In order to ensure continuity of support for parents the Department of Education has formally requested the National Parents’ Council Primary to extend its remit and support to post-primary parents with immediate effect,” the statement added.

The department said the voice of parents was of critical importance to it in all of its work and, as part of this, it provided funding to ensure that parents were adequately supported to have national representation.

“The department has an obligation to ensure that all Exchequer funds are accounted for and properly managed and that there is transparency and accountability in the management of public money,” it added.

The NPCPP, which was inaugurated in 1985, has spoken for parents of post-primary students and has included representatives from associations representing parents in the different school sectors, although there have been divisions in recent years.

Its most high profile activity is the annual NPCPP Helpline, which runs for a period coinciding with the release of Leaving Cert results and CAO Round One offers to support students and their families.

At a recent meeting of the Oireachtas Education Committee, committee chair, Fine Gael TD Paul Kehoe, asked why funding to the NPCPP had been delayed. He described the delay as a “scandal”, and asked for a commitment that the money would be forthcoming.

Mr Kehoe said there was “repeated confirmation by the registered auditors of the National Parents Council Post Primary of its excellence governance from a financial and legal point of view, and also getting a very clean bill of health from the Revenue Commissioners, the Charities Regulator, the Companies Registration Office, and other national bodies.”

Education Minister Norma Foley replied that engagement with her department and the NPCPP was ongoing and there were some outstanding questions that needed to be resolved.

She also referred to the governance review and said it was important that it be allowed to continue.

“My department is very open and happy to continue engagement with the post primary parents and their organisation but where there are questions the department needs answers or where it needs information, it must be in receipt of that also,” she said.

Independent.ie is seeking a comment from the NPCPP.

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