Teacher cannot challenge refusal for post-primary accreditation, court rules
Posted on 25th November 2021 at 20:09
The High Court has turned down a teacher’s application to challenge a refusal to recognise her as being qualified to work as a post-primary teacher.
Fiona Roche from Thomastown, Caragh, Naas, Co Kildare, has taught primarily at several post-primary and primary schools since 2002.
She was registered with the Teaching Council, the teachers regulatory body, since 2006. She claimed the council’s decision to refuse to recognise her as qualified was flawed.
She sought 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.
The Teaching Council opposed her application primarily on grounds that it was brought outside the three-month time limit for bringing judicial reviews.
On Thursday, Mr Justice Garrett Simons rejected her case saying the application for judicial review had been brought “well outside the three-month time limit” prescribed by court rules.
None of the factors she relied on for seeking an extension of time to that limit to bring the case represented a good and sufficient reason for an extension of time, he said.
Moreover, he said, none of these factors were outside her control or of her legal advisers.
The legal issues involved were not especially complex and there should have been no difficulty in preparing the case within three months, he said.
Ms Roche works at Colaiste Iosagain Post Primary in Portarlington, Co Laois. She teaches religion and CSPE, as well as providing guidance hours, and vocational preparation to students. She continued 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 Teaching Council 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 also held that she did not meet the qualifications required for subject matter recognition as a post-primary 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.
In its reasons, the council’s qualifications panel said the qualification completed by Ms Roche in 2017 (Higher Diploma in Further Education) focused on adult and further education.
This course did not cover the post-primary age range of 12 to 18. While it was noted relevant areas of study were undertaken in that course, apart from psychology and sociology modules, generally the key studies in pedagogy relevant to teaching in a post-primary school were not evidenced, it said.
In arguments on her behalf urging the court to extend time, Ms Roche said the delay occurred due to seeking documentation from the council by way of a data request, the availability of counsel, her health, and the effects of the lockdown.
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