The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) is the advocate for the Catholic Maintained Schools sector in Northern Ireland. 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 (8500 teachers), 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.
CCMS supports Trustees in the provision of school buildings and Governors and Principals in the effective management and control of schools. CCMS also has a wider role within the Northern Ireland education sector and contributes with education partners 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 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 – Membership is advertised through the press for these positions.
Trustee Representatives – Members are recommended by the Northern Bishops.
Parents Representatives – Members are drawn from local community on a voluntary basis.
Teachers Representatives – Members are drawn from teaching community 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.
The seminal activities of the Council are set out in Articles 142-146 and Schedule 8 of the 1989 Education Reform (NI) Order and are as follows:
to employ all such teachers as are required on the staffs of Catholic Maintained schools;
to advise the Department or a board on such matters relating to Catholic Maintained Schools as the Department or board may refer to the Council or as the Council may see fit;
to promote and co-ordinate, in consultation with the Trustees of Catholic Maintained Schools, the planning of the effective provision of such schools;
to promote the effective management and control of Catholic Maintained Schools by the Boards of Governors of such schools;
to provide or secure, with the approval of the Department, the provision of such advice and information to the Trustees, Boards of Governors, principal and staff of Catholic Maintained Schools as appears to the Council to be appropriate in connection with the Council’s duty;
to exercise such other functions as are conferred on it by the Education Orders.
The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools continues to promote the philosophy and vision articulated in Building Peace Shaping the Future and is committed to ensuring that through a process of managing through influence, there is a healthy respect for diversity throughout the Catholic maintained school system.
There are 547 Catholic managed schools in Northern Ireland. According to the latest figures from Department of Education, N.I. Statistics Branch 2006/2007, the number of pupils registered at school in Northern Ireland is 329,583.The number of pupils attending Catholic managed schools is 148,225. Approximately 45% of children in Northern Ireland are educated in Catholic managed schools.