The position is that the selection and enrolment of pupils in schools is the responsibility of the authorities of the individual school. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, 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.
Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent, guardian, or a pupil who is 18 years or over, to the Secretary General of my Department (or in the case of an Education and 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. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.
Further information in relation to section 29 appeals is available on my Department’s website or by contacting Section 29 Administration Unit, Department of Education and Skills, Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath (or telephone 0761 108588).
The Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) is a statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The contact details for this agency are Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency, Floors 2-5, Brunel Building, Heuston South Quarter, Dublin 8 (or telephone 01-7718500).