Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (26)

Joan Burton


26. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) which, while in County Meath, has also met the need of families in the area of Clonee, Dublin 15, by enrolling a number of pupils from this area since its formation, but due to a change in enrolment and catchment area rules it will no longer accept families in Dublin 15 that are now having significant difficulties in finding a secondary school place; if his attention has been further drawn to the unfairness for families in this predicament and the difficulty for children deprived of a school place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19829/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I with to advise the Deputy that it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. The enrolment policy must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in the area. Parents have the right to choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available, a selection process may be necessary. 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. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school. Further information on the Section 29 appeals process is available on the Department's website . The Education Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, which was signed into law by the President on the 18th July 2018, is an important piece of legislation which will introduce a more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to how school admissions policy operates for the almost 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in this country and a fair and balanced school admission process for all pupils.

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement followed nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Dunboyne school planning area, a new 800 pupil post-primary school was announced to open in 2020 in the adjacent Blanchardstown_West and BlanchardstownVge_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution. In addition, a number of new post-primary schools were established in school planning areas adjoining the Dunboyne school planning areas in recent years and serving the Dublin 15 areas as follows:

Le Cheile Secondary School, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2014 to serve the Mulhuddart_Tyrellstown school planning area;

Hansfield Educate Together Secondary school, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2014 to serve the Blanchardstown_West school planning area;

De Lacy College, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2014 to serve the Ashbourne school planning area; and

Edmund Rice College, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2017 to serve the Carpenterstown_D15 and Castleknock_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution;

The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased roll-out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.