Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (78)

Simon Harris

Question:

73 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the advice he will offer to parents of children about to reach school-going age in an area (details supplied) which seems to fall outside the catchment area for local schools, if he has any role in asking schools to re-examine their catchment areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4215/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

The question of enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. In this regard, the Government's Medium Term Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework, which was published on 10th November 2011, sets out the demographic challenge facing the education system in the coming years.

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects and smaller projects devolved to schools to meet the demographic demands nationally, as well as the demands in the area to which the Deputy refers, will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. I have previously committed to publishing shortly a five year plan outlining the school building projects to be constructed in that time.

It is the responsibility of individual managerial authorities of schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. In this regard a board of management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, provides parents with an appeal process where a board of management of a school or a person acting on behalf of the Board refuses enrolment to a student. Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to either the relevant Vocational Education Committee or to the Secretary General of my Department. The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The Board can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.