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Primary schools have had boards of management since 1975. The Education Act 1998 put the system on a statutory basis and set out the responsibilities of the boards.
Primary schools are not obliged to have boards of management. The patron of the school has the right to decide whether or not to have one. In practice, most primary schools do have boards.


Under the Education Act 1998, the patron is obliged 'for the purposes of ensuring that a recognised school is managed in a spirit of partnership' to appoint, where practicable, a board of management. The composition of the board of management is to be agreed between school patrons, national associations of parents, school management organisations, teacher representatives and the Minister for Education and Skills.
The board is appointed by the patron. In making appointments, the patron must comply with Ministerial directions about gender balance.
If the patron decides that it is not practicable to appoint a board, he/she must give reasons to the parents, teachers, staff and the Minister but he/she cannot be forced to appoint one.

Functions of the board

The board's main function is to manage the school on behalf of the patron and for the benefit of the students and to provide an appropriate education for each student at the school.
In carrying out its functions, the board must
  • Act in accordance with Ministerial policy
  • Uphold the ethos of the school and be accountable to the patron for this.    The word ethos is not used in the Education Act 1998. It is    described in the Act as the 'characteristic spirit of the school as    determined by the cultural, educational, moral, religious, social,    linguistic and spiritual values and traditions which inform and are    characteristic of the objectives and conduct of the school'.
  • Act in accordance with the law and with any deed, charter, or similar    instrument relating to the school.
  • Consult with and inform the patron of decisions and proposals
  • Publish the school's policy on admission to and participation in the    school, including its policy on expulsion and suspension of students,    admission and participation by students with disabilities or with other    special educational needs
  • Ensure that the school's admissions policy respects the choices of    parents and the principles of equality and that it complies with    Ministerial directions, having regard to the school ethos and the    constitutional rights of all concerned
  • Have regard for the principles and requirements of a democratic society    and promote respect for the diversity of values, beliefs, traditions,    languages and ways of life in our society
  • Have regard to the efficient use of resources (particularly the grants    provided by the State), the public interest in the affairs of the school    and accountability to students, parents and the community
  • Use the resources provided by the State to make reasonable provision and    accommodation for students with disabilities or special needs, including,    if necessary, the adaptation of buildings or provision of special equipment

How boards of management operate

The role and method of operation of boards of management of primary schools was agreed by the Department of Education, the school managers, parents and teachers in 2003. The Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure (pdf), revised in 2007, sets out the principles on which it is based:
  • Governance structures for schools should respond to the diversity of    school types, ownership and management structures that is the central    feature of the structure of Irish education at primary level.
  • Governance structures should reflect the plurality of Irish society,    including the rights and needs of minority groups.
  • The composition of boards should reflect and promote participation and    partnership in the running of schools among    patrons/trustees/owners/governors, parents, teachers and the wider    community.
  • The composition and operation of boards of management should reflect and    promote public accountability to the immediate community served by the    school and to the state as the predominant source of funding for schools.
  • The recognition of the responsibility of    patrons/trustees/owners/governors to maintain and promote a distinctive    ethos in their schools and to ensure the practical means to discharge this    responsibility.
  • Board practice should facilitate and promote commitment by parents to the    affairs of the school and the functioning of an effective parents'    association.
The Rules also frequently refer to the need to communicate with parents and staff and the school community, for example, they state that the board 'shall pursue a policy of openness and have a positive approach to sharing information with the school community'.
The board must have a procedure for informing parents about its activities– this could include an annual report. More information on boards of management is available on the website of the Department of Education and Skills.

Who is on the board

The composition of the board of management for schools with more than one teacher is
  • Two direct nominees of the patron
  • Two parents of children enrolled in the school (one mother and one    father) elected by the parents
  • The principal
  • One other teacher elected by the teaching staff.
  • Two extra members agreed by the representatives of the patron, teachers    and parents.
There are particular rules for boards of management for convent and monastery schools in relation to the teacher representatives. If the principal is a religious, the elected teacher-member must be a lay person and, if the principal is a lay person, it is recommended that the elected teacher-member be a religious. In one-teacher schools, there is one direct nominee of the patron, one teacher representative, one parent and one extra member proposed by these nominees.
There are certain criteria set out for choosing the 2 community representatives on the board of management.
  • The people appointed must have a commitment to the ethos of the school.    In the case of Catholic schools, they must have an understanding of and    commitment to Catholic education as outlined in the Deed of Trust for    Catholic Schools. For Church of Ireland schools, they must be members of    that Church; in Presbyterian schools, they must also be church members and    in Muslim schools they should be members of the Muslim community in Ireland    (in all cases the patron of the school can decide otherwise). For Educate    Together schools they must have a commitment to the ethos of the school.
  • They must have skills that are complementary to the board's requirements
  • They must be interested in education but normally should not be parents    of students currently attending the school or teachers currently on the    staff
  • In Gaeltacht schools and Gaelscoileanna, they are expected to have a good    knowledge of the Irish language.
  • The need to maintain a gender balance must be a consideration
The patron appoints the chairman of the board, usually the local parish priest in the case of Catholic schools.
The Rules set out in detail how the parents' representatives are to be chosen, including the notice to be given to all parents, how replacements are chosen, etc.
In general, members of the board may not hold any interest in the school property or get paid for serving on the board. The Education Act 1998 explicitly clarifies that being on the board does not confer any property interest on a board member. Employees, other than the teacher representatives, may not be on the board.
The following people are not eligible for membership of a board:
  • A person who is an undischarged bankrupt or was involved in a court    procedure for settling with creditors in the previous three years or
  • A person who received a prison sentence in the previous 5 years.

Activities of the board

Essentially, the board manages the school. Among other things:
  • It has responsibility for drawing up the school plan and for ensuring    that it is implemented. (Guidelines for primary    schools on school development planning (pdf) are found on the School    Development Planning Initiative website.)
  • It appoints the principal, the teachers and other staff.
  • It must ensure that the school fulfils its functions as set out in the    Education Act 1998.
  • It must promote contact between the school, the parents and the community    and must facilitate and give all reasonable help to a parents' association    in its formation and its activities.
  • It has overall responsibility for the school's finances. It is obliged to    have comprehensive insurance cover for the school. It must keep proper    accounts, which may be audited by the Department of Education and Skillsa    and/or the Comptroller and Auditor General. Its annual accounts must be    available to the patron and the school community.

Term of office of the board

The term of office for a board is 4 years and members can hold office only for 4 years although members are eligible for reappointment when their term of office expires.  St Mochullas Board of Management was elected in November 2023.
For information on the role and function of The Board of Management please consult The Governance Manual for Primary Schools which can be accessed via the attachment below.

St. Mochulla's Board of Management 2023-2027 


Marie McNamara (Community Nominee)

Michael Donnellan (Commuity Nominee)

Anne Kearney (Parents Nominee)

DJ Lenihan (Parents Nominee)

Lorraine O Loughlin (Teachers Nominee)

Fr. Brendan Quinlivan (Patrons Nominee)

Angela Byrnes (Chairperson and Patrons Nominee)

Brian Culloo (Principal and Secretary)