Catholic Education

There are 533 Roman Catholic-managed schools in Northern Ireland. According to figures from the Department of Education for 2009/2010, the number of pupils registered at school in Northern Ireland is 321,830. The number of pupils attending Catholic-managed schools is 163,371, approximately 51%.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (the CCMS) is the advocate for the Catholic maintained schools sector in Northern Ireland. The CCMS represents trustees, schools and governors on issues such as raising and maintaining standards, the school estate and teacher employment. As the largest employer of teachers in Northern Ireland (8,500 teachers), the CCMS plays a central role in supporting teachers whether through its welfare service or, for example, in working parties such as the Independent Inquiry into Teacher Pay and Conditions of Service. Exempt from fair employment legislation, it is permitted to discriminate against non-Catholic teachers.
The CCMS supports trustees in the provision of school buildings, and governors and principals in the management and control of schools. The CCMS also has a wider role within the Northern Ireland education sector and contributes to policy on a wide range of issues such as curriculum review, selection, pre-school education, pastoral care and leadership.

There are 36 council members who oversee and authorise the strategic and operational policies and practices of the CCMS. Council members are appointed for the duration of each council period for four years. Membership to the council is by appointment and recommendation. Council members receive payment for travelling and incurred costs only. There are four categories of Council members:

Department of Education representatives - advertised through the press for these positions.
Trustee representatives - recommended by Northern Ireland bishops.
Parents' representatives - drawn from local community on a voluntary basis.
Teachers' representatives - drawn from the teaching profession on a voluntary basis.
Established under the auspices of 1989 Education Reform (Northern Ireland) Order, the Council's primary purpose is the provision of an upper tier of management for the Catholic Maintained Sector with the primary objective of raising standards in Catholic maintained schools.