The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) was established under the Education Act 1998. The functions of the Council are set out in Part VII of the Act. The Council is accountable to the Minister for Education and is responsible for ensuring good governance and performs this task by setting strategic goals and actions and taking strategic decisions on all key areas of work. The regular day-to-day management, control and direction of the NCCA are the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the senior management team. The CEO and the senior management team must follow the broad strategic direction set by the Council and must ensure that all Council members have a clear understanding of the key activities and decisions related to Council and of any significant risks likely to arise. The CEO acts as a direct liaison between the Council and management of the NCCA.
The work and responsibilities of the Council are set out in the Education Act 1998 (Part VII) and its accompanying schedule. The matters specifically reserved for decision by Council are:
• approval of all curriculum and assessment specifications and curriculum frameworks
• approval of consultative documents
• approval of policy directions and strategies
• approval of strategic plans and annual plans of work
• approval of annual reports
• approval of quarterly management accounts and annual financial statements
• approval of any significant change in accounting policies or practice
• approval of the annual Statement on Internal Control
• approval of the annual Governance Statement and Board Members’ Report
• approval of the award of contracts to the value of €50,000 or more
• approval of risk management policies
• approval of the terms of reference and appointments to any sub committees of Council e.g. the Audit and Risk Committee
• approval for the establishment of Boards and Development Groups
• approval of the appointment of Chairpersons to Boards including the Boards for Early Childhood and Primary, Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle
• approval of the co-option of members to Boards
• approval to extend the term of a Board, Development Group or sub committee in case issues arise which require a meeting in the transition period to the appointment of a new Council
• approval of Standing Orders.
Standing items considered by the Council include:
• declaration of interests
• reports from the CEO
• reports from sub-committees of Council.
Financial reports and management accounts are generated and considered by Council on a quarterly basis. The Plan of Work and the review of the performance of the plan of work is considered on an annual basis. Reserved matters are considered as and when they arise.
The Council is responsible for approving the annual plan and budget and the annual financial statements. An evaluation of the performance of the NCCA by reference to the annual plan and budget is undertaken.
The Council is also responsible for safeguarding its assets and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.
The Council consists of a Chairperson, two Deputy Chairpersons and 22 ordinary members, all of whom are appointed by the Minister for Education on the basis of nominations received from teachers’ unions, management bodies, parents and industry and other organisations. See the list of Council members here.
The Council has established two committees, the Audit and Risk Committee and the Governance Committee. The responsibilities delegated to these sub-committees by Council are set out in their Terms of Reference.
Audit and Risk Committee (ARC)
The ARC comprises four Council members and one independent member with financial and audit expertise. The role of the ARC is to support Council in relation to its responsibilities for issues of risk, control and governance and associated assurance. The ARC is independent from the financial management of the organisation. The Committee ensures that the internal control systems including audit activities are monitored actively and independently. The ARC reports to Council after each meeting, and formally in writing annually.
The Governance Committee comprises three Council members and one independent external member. The role of the Governance Committee is to support Council in meeting legal and statutory requirements, as well as adopting good practice in governance.
Compliance with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies
The Council has policies and procedures in place in priority areas to comply with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.
An Oversight and Performance Delivery Agreement is in place between the Department of Education and the NCCA covering governance, operational, funding and reporting relationships.
The NCCA is committed to fostering an appropriate environment for addressing concerns relating to potential wrongdoing in the workplace and to providing the necessary support for staff to raise genuine concerns. The purpose of this Protected Disclosures Policy is to encourage employees of the NCCA or any person who works or has worked for the NCCA to make a disclosure of wrongdoing and to provide protection for the person making the disclosure.