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School Admissions

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 10 March 2022

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Ceisteanna (131)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

131. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education if she will report on the new admissions system introduced for secondary schools in Ennis, County Clare for the forthcoming academic year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13327/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

For admission to school in September 2021 all schools nationwide drafted new admissions policies under the provisions of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018. These newly revised admission policies were approved by the patron, following consultation with staff and parents of children who are attending the school.  The revised school’s admissions policy is published on the schools website. It is a key requirement of the act that all school admission policies are fair and transparent.  

Parents have the right to choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available for the relevant year, 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. It is an important feature of the act that schools can only make a decision on an application for admission that is based on the schools admission policy.    

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 (GIS). The GIS uses data from a range of sources, including Child Benefit Data from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department's own school enrolment databases, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. 

 The process has been strengthened this year through three specific initiatives: 

(i) Enhanced engagement with local authorities in relation to the information on residential development incorporated in the analysis process;

(ii) Additional engagement with patron bodies in relation to their local knowledge on school place requirements. Education and Training Boards, Diocesan offices and national patron bodies such as Educate Together, An Foras Pátrúnachta etc. can also be an important source of local knowledge. This will add to information also provided to the Department by local authorities or individual schools. 

(iii) Utilising the information gleaned from schools under the national inventory of school capacity completed by individual schools last year as part of POD, P-POD returns process. 

Similar to the process adopted for September 2021 readiness, the Department will be engaging further with patron bodies shortly in advance of identifying specific September 2022 capacity pressure points priorities which will necessitate specific action. 

In a ‘normal’ year, addressing the increase demands for school places, whilst challenging, is manageable – generally through utilisation of existing spare capacity within schools, rental, temporary accommodation or other short term measures pending the delivery of permanent accommodation. 

There is 4 post primary schools in the Ennis School Planning Area, there is currently 2 schools that have ongoing projects that will increase capacity in both schools. 

Ennis Community College is a multi-denominational co-educational post primary school under the patronage of Limerick & Clare ETB. The school currently has an enrolment of 532 pupils, a major capital project at the school is nearing completion with an expected handover date of March 2022, on completion the school will have capacity to cater for 750 pupils, creating approximately 218 additional school places.  

In addition, there is a project in early stages of architectural planning for Rice College to increase capacity to 1,000 pupils, creating approximately 298 additional school places. The school currently has an enrolment of 702 pupils. The estimated completion date for this project is September 2025. 

It is open to any of the post primary schools in Ennis to submit an application to the Department for interim temporary accommodation should this be required to meet an immediate enrolment need.

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