Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Education and Skills
Ruairi Quinn (Minister, Department of Education and Skills; Dublin South East, Labour)
I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 250 together.
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.
Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected.
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 a vocational education committee (VEC) school to the VEC 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.
The parents/guardians of the pupil in question may wish to contact my Department at the section 29 appeals administration unit, Friar’s Mill Road, Mullingar, County Westmeath, phone 044-9337008, if they wish to take an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act 1998.
The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB may be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement within the pupil’s area. The contact details for the NEWB in the area is National Educational Welfare Board, Block 3 Floor 1, Grove Court, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, phone number 01-8103260.