asked the Minister for Education if he is aware that a number of post-primary schools in receipt of State aid in payment of school fees allegedly use discriminatory methods in admitting pupils to their schools; if he will as a first step towards eliminating this abuse prescribe a date for enrolment to all post-primary schools and bring to their notice that priority should not be given to any pupil by reason of higher scholastic attainment, family connection with the school or prior enrolment in a private primary school attached to the post-primary school; and if he will further take steps to have enrolment procedures supervised by his Department to ensure that all pupils are equitably treated where public funds are disbursed.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Post-Primary School Enrolment.
My task is to endeavour to provide post-primary education for every pupil who seeks it. The discharging of this task does not enable me to seek to control the enrolment procedures in individual schools.
Is the Minister not aware of the grave disquiet amongst parents and teachers, in particular vocational teachers, at the use of selection procedures by certain secondary schools which make nonsense of the abolition of the post-primary certificate?
I am sure the Deputy is aware of the fact that secondary schools are privately owned and there is no statutory power by which the Department could exercise control over the enrolment of pupils in secondary schools. Where complaints are made to the Minister about the creaming of pupils by means of an entrance examination the Department has written to the school in question deprecating the use of an examination for the purpose of admitting to the school only pupils of higher ability. But, as I pointed out, there is no statutory power by which the Department can exercise control.
Does the Minister not further agree, while there may be no statutory power, that, in view of the enormous volume of State expenditure which now goes into the current financing of secondary education, the very least he might do is make the most forcible representations to these schools that this sort of selection procedure should stop?
I have explained to the Deputy what we are doing. I could add that the comprehensive education which we are seeking to provide will of itself do away with all these selection procedures.
Will the Minister not circularise schools?
Is it not because of the shortage of places that this sort of discrimination in the selection of pupils arises?
No. So far as the Department are aware, no pupils who has sought free post-primary education under the scheme has been denied it.
The Minister should have been at a meeting that public representatives attended last night. I should like to see him about that afterwards.
The Deputy is aware of the fact that wherever a difficulty in relation to the placing of a pupil has been brought to the attention of the Department, the Department has always been able to help.
It is not good enough.
The problem has not been solved as yet.