Naas woman challenges Teaching Council decision not to recognise her qualifications

Aodhan O'Faolain

Reporter:

Aodhan O'Faolain

Naas woman challenges Teaching Council decision not to recognise her qualifications

The Four Courts, Dublin

A secondary school teacher has brought High Court challenge against the Teaching Council's refusal to recognise her as being a qualified post primary teacher.

The action has been brought by Fiona Roche from Thomastown, Caragh, Naas, Co Kildare, who has taught at several post primary and primary schools since 2002 and has been registered with the council since 2006.

She is currently working 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 also gives the 'Minding Me' wellbeing module classes to pupils.

In 2018 the school's board of management were instructed by the Department of Education that her position would have to be vacated and re-advertised. She applied for the job.

However, in April 2019, she was informed by 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 Teaching Council, which regulates of 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.

Ms Roche disputes the decision, which she appealed. However the appeal was not unsuccessful. As a result she has brought High Court judicial review proceedings against the council aimed at quashing the decision.

At the High Court James Lawless Bl, for Ms Roche, said that it their case that the decision making process regarding his client was flawed, and there was a failure by the council to give proper regard to relevant considerations.

Counsel said his client qualified as a Montessori teacher in the 1990s, and also holds several third level graduate and post graduate qualifications.

These include a degree in Behavioural Science- Psychology from the American University in Dublin, a Graduate Diploma in Guidance Counselling from the University of Limerick, and Higher Diplomas in Further Education and Theological Studies from NUI Maynoth. 

Counsel said that arising out of the Teaching Council's decision, his client, who worked at several schools in Co Kildare, now fears for her livelihood.

In her action, Ms Roche seeks various orders including one quashing the Teaching Council's decision.

She also seeks declarations that the council's decision was entirely without legal basis, is invalid, irrational and flies in the face of common sense.

She further seeks an order allowing her to challenge to be brought outside the time permitted to bring such actions. Counsel said there had been delays due to factors including data access requests and his client's health.

The application came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who directed that the application for permission to bring the action be made in the presence of the Teaching Council.

The judge agreed to put a temporary stay on the decision from coming into effect, until further order of the court.  The matter was adjourned to a date in October.