Refusal to recognise teacher of 19 years should be quashed, court told
Posted on 4th November 2021 at 22:14
Woman claims Teaching Council decision to refuse to recognise her as qualified is flawed
The High Court has been urged to quash a decision of the Teaching Council to refuse to recognise a teacher, who has taught for 19 years, as being qualified to work as a post-primary teacher.
Fiona Roche from Thomastown, Caragh, Naas, Co Kildare, who has taught at several post primary and primary schools since 2002 and registered with the council since 2006, claims the decision to refuse to recognise her as qualified is flawed.
Ms Roche seeks various orders and declarations including that the council’s decision is entirely without legal basis, invalid, irrational and flies in the face of common sense.
She works at Coláiste Iosagain Post Primary in Portarlington, Co Laois. She teaches religion and CSPE, as well as providing guidance hours, and vocational preparation to students. She continues to be employed in that role following a court order last year that she could do so pending the outcome of her legal challenge.
The matter arose out of an instruction from the Department of Education and Skills to the school saying her position would have to be vacated and re-advertised.
When it was re-advertised, she applied for the job but in April 2019 was told by the teachers’ regulatory body, the Teaching Council, that she was “not to be accredited as a registered qualified teacher for the purposes of recognition and employment within the post-primary school system”.
The council, which regulates the teaching profession in Ireland, also held that she did not meet the qualifications required for subject matter recognition as a secondary school teacher in the subjects she submitted, Religion and CSPE.
The council further held that she did not meet the criteria required for a professional qualification as a post primary school teacher and lacked sufficient experience teaching within the sector.
She disputed the decision and appealed, which was unsuccessful.
She brought judicial review proceedings against the council aimed at quashing the decision some 13 months later.
When the case opened on Thursday, the court heard there was an issue over the delay in bringing the proceedings within the prescribed three-month time limit from the date of the decision to refuse to accredit.
James Lawless Bl, for Ms Roche, urged Mr Justice Garrett Simons to grant an extension of time permitting the challenge as there were explanations for the delay and there was no prejudice to the respondent by granting the extension.
He said Ms Roche had suffered emotional distress, pain and anxiety because her livelihood was at stake because of the decision.
Counsel said this was a situation where Ms Roche had been working as a teacher for a number of years before the Teaching Council was set up in 2006.
Despite being led to believe that the situation of people in her position would be regularised under the new regulatory regime, and despite taking courses to ensure this would be so, she found the “goalposts were shifting”. Counsel argued she had a legitimate expectation and believed her situation would be taken into account.
Counsel said certain factors were not taken into account in the decision refusing her and a number of anomalies were found in it following a freedom of information request.
Remy Farrell SC, for the council, said whatever else may be argued it did not appear to be an obviously strong case and the primary issue was the question of delay. There was “nothing at all which justified the extraordinary delay”, and an extension of time should not be granted, he said.
Mr Justice Simons said he would give his decision in the next two to three weeks.
Share this post: