Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (118)

Catherine Martin


118. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has reviewed the demand for secondary school spaces in an area (details supplied) in view of the exclusion by Meath and Louth ETB of students attending schools in County Meath but living in Dublin from access to a college; if he is satisfied that there are adequate secondary school places in the area to meet existing demand and cater for the large new housing estate which is being built in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41088/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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.

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.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998 and the Admissions Act, 2018.

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. 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. 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 www.education.ie. 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.

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 rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.