Written answers

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Department of Education and Skills

School Placement

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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97. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the availability of school placements in Drogheda, south County Meath and east County Louth in his Department's schools for persons (details supplied); the most appropriate procedure to make sure the persons can enter in the current school term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48651/17]

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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In relation to school admissions, 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. As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places.

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 Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (EWS) 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.

In relation to school places my Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise.  The GIS uses data from a range of sources, including the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and my Department’s own databases.  With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of the additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity with a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school(s).

The nationwide demographic exercises of all school planning areas nationwide at primary and post-primary level, which will determine where additional school accommodation will be needed in the future, is ongoing. It is anticipated that decisions based on the review will be announced later in 2017.


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