Written answers

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Department of Education and Skills

School Enrolments

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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98. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the obligations schools are under to accept a student in the catchment area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37193/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The question of enrolment in individual schools, including the setting of catchment areas are the responsibility of the school authorities. It is the responsibility of the school authorities of schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act 1998 and the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018.

My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. 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, it may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in their school of first choice. In this regard, school authorities may find it necessary to prioritise enrolment of children from particular areas or on the basis of some other criterion. 

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 school planning area where they have sufficient places, rather it reflects the need to accommodate in the first instance the demographic for which the school was established.

The requirement on new schools established since 2011 to prioritise enrolment from a particular school planning area(s) does not apply to or impact on the majority of existing schools established prior to 2011.

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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99. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the rights a student has if they are refused a place at any of the available schools in their catchment area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37194/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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It is the responsibility of my Department to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area.  Parents/guardians can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to draft, publish and implement a school admission policy in accordance with the Education Acts 1998 to 2018. In schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary.  This may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in their school of first choice.

The admission policy, including the selection criterion to be used where the school is oversubscribed, must comply with the Education Acts 1998 to 2018, be non-discriminatory and be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Where a board of management make a decision to refuse admission, a parent/guardian can appeal that decision under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998, and an independent appeals committee will be appointed to consider the appeal.  My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a student, except in circumstances where an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 has been allowed and the appeals committee directs that the school admit the child concerned.

A section 29 appeal must be made no later than 63 calendar days from the date of the school’s decision to refuse admission.

If a student has been refused admission due to the school being oversubscribed, and the parent/guardian of the student wishes to appeal this decision they must firstly make a written request to the school seeking a review of the board of management’s decision.  This request for a review to the board of management is time bound and must be made within 21 calendar days from the date of the decision by the school to refuse admission the student.

If a student has been refused admission for a reason other than the school being oversubscribed, the parent/guardian may, but is not required to, request a review by the board of management within 21 calendar days from the date of the decision by the school to refuse admission to the student.  Where refused admission is for a reason other than the school being oversubscribed and the parent/guardian does not choose to seek a review by the board of management, an appeal may be made  to an independent appeals committee no later than 63 calendar days from the date of the school’s decision to refuse admission.

Full details on the section 29 appeals process are available on my Department’s website at the link below:

www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Appeal-against-Permanent-Exclusion-Suspension-or-Refusal-to-Enrol/Appeals.html.

In addition, Tusla Education Support Services (TESS) the Educational Welfare Service  is the legal body which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school placement for their child. Contact details for TESS are available at the following link www.tusla.ie/tess/get-in-touch/or by email at tessinfo@tusla.ie.

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