I wish to advise the Deputy that in relation to enrolment generally, it is my Department's responsibility to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. Parents can 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, 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, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. 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. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500.
As the Deputy will be aware the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, which was signed into law by the President on the 18th July 2018, is an important piece of legislation which will introduce a more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to how school admissions policy operates for the almost 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in this country and a fair and balanced school admission process for all pupils.
Witrh regard to the provision of additional accommodation to meet demographic demand nationally, the Government announced plans in April 2018 for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new 600 pupil post-primary school to be established in September 2019 to serve the Drogheda and Laytown school planning areas as a regional solution. This school will be under the patronage of Educate Together.
An initial phased start-up is envisaged for the new schools, which typically involves the use of interim accommodation. The school will be established in the southern environs of Drogheda. Itis intended that the interim accommodation for the school will be established in the southern environs of Drogheda.