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Education Committee publishes recommendations on Schools Admissions legislation

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection has this morning called for first-come-first-served school waiting lists to be phased out, given that they can discriminate against newcomers to an area.

5 March 2014

With the so-called "section 29" appeals process to be replaced, the Committee is calling for an independent and transparent appeals process, which could possibly be provided for on a regional basis.

In a report on upcoming schools admissions legislation, the Committee also expresses concern at the proposals for a derogation for children of past pupils and school staff members, and argues that a school should not be permitted to give priority to a student on the grounds that he or she is the son or daughter of a former student or a staff member of the school.

The Committee considers that a school should be permitted to give priority to a student who has a sibling who is currently attending the school.

The recommendations are contained in the Committee’s Report on the Draft General Scheme of an Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2013, launched this afternoon.

Other recommendations include that:

  • Where a school is designated to enrol a student with special educational needs, resources should be provided by the Department of Education and Skills within a statutory timetable
  • The proposals protect the integrity of Irish medium schools while ensuring that no discrimination takes place in relation to admissions. For instance, schools could allow a high priority in their enrolment policies to the small percentage of schoolchildren who are native speakers of Irish (outside of the Gaeltacht).
  • Schools’ admission policies be written in a simple and plain style so that they are accessible to all parents.
  • The report acknowledges that multiple patronage and ethos as a basis for policy can lead to segregation and inequality in the education system and that the the objectives of admission policy should be equality and integration.

Joanna Tuffy TD, Chair of the Committee says: “In a more diverse and changing society, it is clear that admission to school must adapt to meet prevailing circumstances and expectations. This important piece of legislation sets out to regulate the admission of children to primary and post-primary schools, with the overarching goal of ensuring fair, consistent and transparent schools admissions processes.

“As part of this Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny process, we issued a call for submissions on proposals late last year. The public engagement with a wide range of range of stakeholders that followed highlighted for the Committee how admission to schools has not met the standards of equity or transparency that citizens have a right to expect from their public services. Informed by the diverse stands of opinion we heard, the Committee has compiled a report to assist the shaping of each section of the legislation in this challenging policy area.”

A copy of the report is being forwarded to the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn TD, to assist in finalising his legislative proposals in relation to this issue. The report will also inform Committee stage consideration of the Bill when it is presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas later in the year.

Access Report on the Draft General Scheme of an Education (Admission to Schools) Bill

View video clip of Deputy Tuffy introducing the report.

Committee Membership
Deputy Joanna Tuffy - Chair
Deputies James Bannon, Ray Butler, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Brendan Griffin , Jim Daly, Derek Keating, Charlie McConalogue, Nicky McFadden, Jonathan O’Brien, Willie O’Dea, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Brendan Ryan
Senators  Jim D'Arcy, Marie Moloney, Mary Moran, Hildegarde Naughten, Marie-Louise O’Donnell, Averil Power