Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Ceisteanna (56)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

56. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the catchment area for a school (details supplied) will be extended into the Ashtown and Navan Road area to cater for those seeking co-educational school options; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41204/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

The school planning areas are used in the demographic exercise as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in that school planning area.  There are no current plans to revise school planning areas.

The school referred to by the Deputy is a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2017 to serve the Carpenterstown_D15 & Castleknock_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution.

New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required, in the first instance, to prioritise pupil applications from within the designated school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve.  This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area where they have sufficient places. 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.

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998.  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. 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 question of enrolment in individual schools, including the setting of catchment areas, is the responsibility of the Board of Management on behalf of the school Patron and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters.

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. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500.