Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003 assert the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest possible extent consistent with the public interest and the right of privacy of individuals.
The main objective of the Acts is to develop and foster a culture of openness, transparency and accountability in public bodies. The Acts are designed to allow access to information held by public bodies, which is not routinely available through other sources. Access to information under the Acts is subject to certain exemptions and involves specific procedures and time limits.
Under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Acts, you can ask GEC for the following records:
- any records relating to you personally, whenever created;
- all other records created after 31st May 2006 (date on which GEC became subject to the Act).
A “record” can be a paper document, information held on computer, printouts, maps, plans, microfilm, microfiche, audio-visual material, etc.
You also have a legal right to have official information held by GEC relating to yourself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading, and to obtain reasons for decisions affecting you.
The following information is not covered by the Acts: –
- Information that has already been published and is available from the Centre.
- Non-personal information created before commencement date – 31st May 2006.
- Personal information relating to anyone else (there are some exceptions).
- Sensitive information excluded by the Minister under the terms of the Act.
The purpose of this document is to facilitate access to official information held by Galway Education Centre, by outlining the structure and functions of this organisation, details of the services we provide and how to avail of them, information on the type of records we hold, and information on how to make a request to the Galway Education Centre under the Freedom of Information Acts.
Structure and Organisation of Galway Education Centre
The members of Galway Education Centre are the teachers in primary and post-primary schools in the city and county. Galway Education Centre is managed by a committee elected annually at the AGM in accordance with the constitution of Galway Education Centre.
The Director is Secretary of the Centre. He is responsible, subject to the authority of the Management Committee, for the organisation and management of the activities of the Centre. He is responsible for keeping the accounts of the Centre and for making regular reports to the Management Committee and for preparing a statement of accounts which must be duly audited and submitted to the AGM of the Centre and to the Department of Education and Science.
In the absence of the Director, the Development and Operations Manager is responsible for the administration of the Centre.
Administration, Accounts and Caretaking staff the work of the Centre.
The ‘Meet our Personnel’ section of this site lists current Management Committee & Staff.
To facilitate innovative and collaborative teaching and learning for people in the education community; and to maintain and develop excellence and quality of service provided, by ing the users of our centre.’
Function of Galway Education Centre
Under the Education Act 1998 Education Centres are required to:
- Provide training, development and for teachers and the wider school community, both in terms of meeting locally researched and identified teacher and school community needs and also through involvement in national in–service programmes.
- Be involved, as a major strategic resource within education, in a range of national and other projects, programmes and initiatives as may be decided by the Minister, following consultation and in partnership with the Centres, for implementation in the education system from time to time.
- Act as far as possible as a resource and meeting centre for the local education community.
- Plan for the development of expertise in key areas and share such expertise throughout the Education Centre network and the educational system in general.
- Co-operate and engage with other Education Centres, full and part-time, to ensure that an effective network of Centres is established.
- Develop expertise in key areas as agreed by the Centres in consultation and partnership with the Department of Education and Science and to share said expertise throughout the Education Centre network and the education system in general.
- Provide other services and s as may be requested by the Minister.
Services Provided by Galway Education Centre
- Local delivery of National Programmes of in-service training.
- Evening, weekend and summer elective courses for primary and post primary teachers.
- Courses for parents that relate to the education of their children.
- Reading Recovery training for teachers.
- Courses for members of Boards of Management of primary and post primary schools.
- School-based Courses (Primary and Post primary).
- Local Initiatives (Primary and Post primary).
- Facilities are provided for:
- Teacher Professional Networks,
- Subject Associations (Post primary),
- Principals’ Groups – Primary and Post primary,
- Parents’ Associations – Primary and Post primary.
- Fleischmann Resource Library.
- Software: A wide range of software is available for teachers to consult.
- The centre’s web-site contains up to date information on activities, links to other sites and a discussion board.
- Photocopying, laminating and binding are available.
- Rooms are available for school planning days and other events for members of school staff.
The GEC EVENTS SCHEDULE on the homepage of www.galwayec.ie lists all courses and meetings running currently at GEC.
The Professional Development page lists all local and ICT courses at the centre since Spring 2008.
Records held by Galway Education Centre
- School names, roll numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, principals’ names, number of teachers on staff, number of Special Needs Assistants, Learning and Resource teachers attached to schools.
- National programme in-service sessions and rolls of teachers attending.
- Reading Recovery in-service sessions and rolls of teachers attending.
- Local, summer and ICT courses organised and rolls of teachers attending.
- Names and contact details of personnel delivering courses and in-service sessions.
- Evaluation of all courses.
- Participant Travel Expense Claim forms submitted for reimbursement by attendees at courses.
- Financial records of all Education Centre activities.
- Names and contact details of the Special Education Service (SESS) team.
- Schools and teachers attending SESS seminars.
- Record of all financial activities of SESS.
- Minutes of SESS Steering Committee.
- Minutes of Management Committee meetings and Director’s reports to these.
- Audited annual accounts.
- Annual report of Centre activities.
How to make an application under the FOI Act
Please complete your application as follows:
- Your application should be in writing (including e-mail).
- An application form can be found at the end of this document for your convenience.
- If not using the form, your application should indicate that the request is being made under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 & 2003.
- Give as much detail as possible including dates of the records sought, to enable us to identify the records required. The FOI Officer is available to provide assistance should you have any difficulty.
- Specify if you wish to receive the records in a particular format, i.e. photocopy, computer disc, etc.
- You may be required to prove your identity, especially when requesting personal information.
- Contact details should be included to enable contact if it is necessary to clarify details of the request.
- Galway Education Centre is obliged to respond to the request under FOI within twenty working days from receipt. Please note: the Centre is closed for holidays at Christmas, Easter and Summer. Postal deliveries to the Centre are suspended during these periods.
- Applications for information under FOI should be addressed to:
Paddy Clancy – FOI Officer
Galway Education Centre
Cluain Mhuire Wellpark, Galway
Telephone: 091 745600
Fax: 091 745618
Rights of review and appeal against the decisions of Galway Education Centre
If you are not satisfied with the decision of the FOI Officer, you may ask GEC for an ‘internal review’ of the decision
A request for internal review must be submitted within 20 working days of the initial decision to:
Paddy Clancy – FOI Officer
Galway Education Centre
Cluain Mhuire Wellpark, Galway
Telephone: 091 745600
The review must be complete within 15 working days of receipt, and can uphold, annul or vary the original decision. You will be notified in writing of the decision.
If no decision is made within 15 working days, non-reply is deemed to be a refusal and you may appeal to the Information Commissioner.
The Information Commissioner may be contacted at:
Office of the Information Commissioner,
18, Lower Leeson Street,
Telephone: 01 678 5222
Fax: 01 661 0570
Full details of all FOI legislation, and frequently asked questions, are available on the FOI website at www.foi.gov.ie.
The FOI Act sets out charges for information requested and released under the FOI Act. Two types of charges apply:
(i) “up-front” fees that must accompany a request for a non-personal record
(ii) fees/deposits in relation to search and retrieval and reproduction costs of records released to a requester.
Full details of all FOI charges are available on the FOI website at www.foi.gov.ie.
Galway Education Centre undertakes to endeavour to hold confidential any information provided to it in confidence, subject to its obligations under law, including the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003. Any person wishing that any of the information supplied to the Centre should not be disclosed because of its sensitivity should, when providing information, identify it as sensitive and specify the reasons for its sensitivity. The Centre will consult about this sensitive information before making a decision on any Freedom of Information request received.
Procedures and Guidelines for the Operation of the Centre
Section 16 of The Freedom of Information Act requires the Centre publish its rules, procedures, practices, guidelines and interpretations. The availability of this information is complementary to the public’s general right of access. The objectives of this provision may be broadly summarised as:
□ To assist the public in understanding more fully their rights and entitlements in relation to the Centre’s activities
□ To enhance public confidence in decision making
□ To enable the quality and accuracy of the public body’s interpretation and application of statutory provisions to be assessed
General Policies and Procedures
The Centre in all areas of its operation complies with:
- The Data Protection Act, 1967
- The Freedom of Information Act, 1997
The Fleischmann Resource Library
The Library operates in accordance with current copyright legislation.
Policies regarding staff and student usage of the Centre’s computer network are stated in the Staff Handbook.
Financial and Procurement Procedures
The financial and accounting rules and procedures of the Centre are in accordance with relevant legislation and with circulars and guidelines issued by the Department of Finance and the Department of Education where applicable.
These include in summary:
- Prompt payments of Accounts Act, 1997.
- Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act, 1993.
- Procedures for public procurements established by the Department of Finance.
Galway Education Centre abides by all government legislation pertaining to personnel administration, including, in brief, the following:
- Employment Legislation (various).
- Payment of Wages Act, 1991.
- Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.
- Industrial Relation Acts (various).
- Legislation pertaining to maternity, paternity and adoptive leave, and holiday entitlements.
- And all other relevant legislation.
The Centre recognises the following labour unions: IMPACT, ASTI, INTO and TUI
Health and Safety
The Centre works towards full compliance with legislation ensuring the health and safety of its staff and clients under
- Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act, 1989 and all subsequent amendments.
- The Centre Safety Statement.