The municipal authorities are the local authority for all schools in the area, whether publicly or privately run. As such they have the following powers and responsibilities:
- drawing up annual plans for and funding necessary changes in accommodation for primary and secondary schools;
- adopting annual plans for the provision of new public and private schools at primary and secondary level;
- allocating resources from the budget for eliminating educational disadvantages and drawing up a local compensatory plan;
- buying in adult education for certain target groups;
- implementing the legislation on transport of pupils, imposing their own criteria and conditions within the statutory framework;
- implementing the Compulsory Education Act by monitoring compliance with the Act and keeping a record of early school leavers.
Educational institutions: administration and management
All schools have a legally recognised competent authority, also referred to as the school board. The competent authority administers and manages the school or schools for which it is responsible. Administration entails looking after the material aspects of the organisation of a school and, in particular, meeting the running costs and personnel costs. Management involves determining policy on the curriculum, personnel matters (appointment and dismissal of staff etc.) and the admission of pupils. The competent authority is responsible for what goes on in the school insofar as this is governed by statutory regulations. Some of its powers may be delegated to the school head, but responsibility continues to lie with the competent authority. See Chapter 10 for more information on competent authorities, primary school teachers and other educational support staff.
The competent authority of publicly run schools
In the case of public primary and secondary schools, the municipal executive may act as the competent authority. Alternatively, the municipal council has been able, since 1997, to opt to delegate the tasks performed by the municipal authorities as the competent authority of publicly run schools to some other type of body governed by public law. Besides the municipal executive, therefore, the following options are available:
- a governing committee;
- the body designated for this purpose in a joint agreement (i.e. a cooperative agreement between two or more neighbouring municipalities);
- a legal person governed by public law;
- a foundation.
The powers and responsibilities of competent authorities
Under article 23 of the Constitution, anyone is free to provide education. This encompasses the freedom of establishment, the freedom of conviction and the freedom of organisation of teaching:
- The freedom of establishment implies the freedom to found a school based on principles or beliefs of any kind.
- The freedom of conviction means that the competent authority is free to determine the principles or beliefs on which the school is based.
- The freedom of organisation of teaching refers to the freedom of the competent authority to determine the content of teaching and the teaching methods used.
Apart from this, the competent authority has a number of more specific powers and responsibilities. The governing body of a publicly run school has the same powers and responsibilities as that of a private school. These include:
- setting up a school;
- choosing the teaching materials;
- including optional subjects in the timetable;
- fixing the timetable (assigning teaching periods to different subjects or areas of the curriculum);
- appointing and dismissing heads, teachers and support staff;
- determining personnel policy and aspects of the conditions of service of staff attached to the school;
- deciding on the admission and exclusion of pupils;
- formulating rules of conduct for the pupils;
- determining the internal organisational structure of the school, including arrangements for participation by pupils, parents and staff;
- determining the nature of out-of-school activities;
- deciding whether the school will participate in educational innovation projects;
- deciding what use the school will make of the services of educational support organisations;
- determining the form and nature of relations between the school and outside organisations;
- deciding whether third parties may make use of the school building, and how;
- managing the school’s financial resources and taking care of the administration;
- deciding whether to close a school or a department within it.
The governing body of publicly run schools also has a small number of additional responsibilities linked to the specific function of public-authority education:
- there is no formal freedom to found and maintain public schools, but rather a duty to provide an adequate number of schools;
- no child may be refused admission to a school;
- the governing body can be publicly called to account by the municipal council for its actions.
Some schools actually consist of two or more schools with different outlooks which cooperate closely together and share the same competent authority. Some public and private schools cooperate in this way. Cooperation between public and private schools is governed by statutory regulations, the purpose of which is to safeguard the provision and nature of public education within mixed schools of this kind.