Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (296)

Jennifer Whitmore


296. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Education if she will consider meeting with the new Archbishop of Dublin regarding changes made to the sibling first school admissions policy by the school patron and the effects this is having on school admissions in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2334/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In relation to school admissions, it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Acts 1998 to 2018. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in that area.

Under the provisions of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 all schools have drafted new policies for publication on the school’s website. These new admission policies have been approved by respective Patrons following consultation with school staff and parents of children attending the school, and are now published on individual school websites. These policies will apply for admission to school from September 2021 onwards.

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 will 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.

The act requires schools to clearly set out their selection criteria in their admission policies. Schools have discretion in relation to their admission criteria and how they are applied. The criteria to be applied by schools and the order of priority are a matter for the schools themselves. My Department does not seek to intervene in the selection criterion that is applied by schools.

Patrons of schools including the Archdiocese of Dublin are not required to consult or seek approval form the Department of Education in relation to their selection criteria, however the Archdiocese of Dublin has advised my Department that after a lot of consideration and consultation with the schools, the Diocese has maintained the position that siblings, step-siblings and/or children of the parish should remain in the first priority as they believe it is fair, transparent and inclusive way of allocating places in all primary schools under the patronage of the Archdiocese of Dublin.

Schools and their Patrons have discretion in relation to their admission criteria, including the selection criteria outlined by the Archdiocese of Dublin, and how they are applied, once it is non-discriminatory and fair.

Question No. 297 answered with Question No. 279.