Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (528)

Michael Moynihan


528. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the rules relating to catchment areas for national schools; if his attention has been drawn to the significant difficulty caused by the perceived inflexibility of the rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33201/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The question of enrolment in individual schools, including the setting of catchment areas, is the responsibility of the school authorities and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters. It is the responsibility of the school authorities of schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act 1998 and the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018.

My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. 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, it may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in their school of first choice.

In this regard, a board of management may find it necessary to prioritise enrolment of children from particular areas or particular age groups or on the basis of some other criterion. The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances are a matter for the schools themselves.

New schools established to meet demographic demand are required to prioritise enrolments from within the school planning area which the school was established to serve.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 was signed into law by the President on 18 July 2018. The overall objective of the Act is to provide a new framework for school enrolment, designed to ensure that every child is treated fairly and that the way in which schools decide on applications for admission is structured, fair and transparent.