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 that regard, during the past two years my Department has provided funding towards additional accommodation and refurbishment works to both of the schools referred to by the Deputy. These projects have now been completed.
It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools that are not in a position to admit all pupils seeking entry to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act 1998. In this regard a board of management may deem it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular age group or to children living in a particular area or on the basis of some other criterion. Some schools use parish or other boundaries for this purpose.
The selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based is matter for the individual school authority. In formulating an enrolment policy a school must, however, ensure it is lawful and applied fairly to all applicants.
Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the rights of parents to send their children to a school of the parents' choice are respected.
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 Educational 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.