Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 10 Apr 2003

Vol. 565 No. 2

Written Answers. - School Placement.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty


270 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Education and Science if a procedure will be investigated in Archbishop Ryan school, Lucan, whereby registration for the school takes place in a listed priority (details supplied), to determine if such a priority list is discriminatory; if an obligation exists for the State to find a place within a reasonable distance for a five year old child of parents who are not Catholic or Travellers, whose child has been turned down for a place at this school and who is also not high enough up on the list for the local Educate Together and Gaelscoileananna; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10558/03]

The compulsory school starting age in a national school is six years of age and rule 64(1) of the Rules for National Schools provides that a child must be at least four years of age before she or he may be enrolled in a national school. Children of compulsory school-going age must have a place in a national school and overall there are more than enough places available.

Enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. This may result, however, in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools that are not in a position to admit all pupils seeking entry to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the education Act. In this regard, a board of management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. In formulating an admissions policy a school must, however, ensure it is lawful. In particular, it must act in accordance with section 7 of the Equal Status Act 2000, which, subject to very limited exceptions, prohibits schools from dis criminating against people in relation to a number of matters including the admission or the terms or conditions of admission of a person as a student to the school.
Where a board of management refuses to enrol a student in a school the parent of the student or, where the student has reached 18 years of age, the student themselves, following the conclusion of any appeal procedures at school level, has a statutory entitlement under section 29 of the Education Act to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science. A committee is established to hear the appeal with hearings conducted with a minimum of formality. In most cases appeals must be dealt with in 30 days. Where appropriate, the Secretary General may give whatever directions to the board of management that are considered necessary to remedy the matter complained of. In addition, in cases where parents experience difficulties in having their child admitted to the school system, my Department gives assistance in securing a suitable school placement through the involvement of the inspectorate in a consultative process with the school authorities.