Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (183)

Eoin Ó Broin


183. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) is on the waiting list of a school for the 2020/2021 academic year; if so, when they will be given a place; and the number of children ahead of them on the list for same. [37105/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents/guardians of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role either in making or deciding on enrolment applications to schools or keeping waiting lists. In these matters, schools are required to adhere to the requirements of relevant legislation and the policies of my department.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. The 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. Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to publish its enrolment policy.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is a statutory body, the functions of which include planning and coordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs. The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

SENOs are available to assist parents/guardians to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs and to discuss their child's special educational needs. As you will appreciate, SENOs are guided by the information regarding diagnosis and the recommendations contained in the reports submitted. The NCSE has published a Guide for Parents and Guardians of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs on Choosing a School; this guide is available on the website, www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE works in collaboration with the Educational Welfare Services (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency which is the statutory agency that can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child or can offer assistance where a child is out of school. The local service is delivered through the national network of Educational Welfare Officers (EWO). Contact details are available at www.tusla.ie/get-in-touch/education-and-welfare/.

It should be noted that where a parent/guardian seeks to enrol a child in a school and that school refuses to enrol the child, the school is obliged to inform the parents/guardians of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Only where an appeal under Section 29 is upheld, may the Secretary General of my Department direct a school to enrol a pupil.

As the deputy's question refers to a specific child, the question will be forwarded to the NCSE for direct reply.