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Minister Quinn secures Cabinet approval for drafting of Admissions to Schools Bill

March 25, 2014

Bill will make the school enrolment process more structured, fair and transparent

The Government has today approved the drafting of the Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2014. This new legislation aims to ensure that the enrolment process in all primary and post-primary schools is inclusive, transparent and fair.

A key objective in designing a new regulatory framework for school admissions is to create greater confidence for parents that the criteria laid down by schools for enrolling pupils is consistent, reasonable and applied equitably across the board.

ESRI research shows that the majority of schools, around 80 per cent, admit all the pupils who apply for enrolment. In these cases, the new regulatory framework will have a marginal impact.

Where the new Bill will play an important role is in the 20 per cent of schools where there is over-subscription.

Minister Quinn said, “The aim of this new Bill is to inspire the same levels of confidence in the enrolment of pupils in schools as the CAO system inspires for those who are applying for limited places in third level colleges.”

“I believe that the vast majority of our schools are inclusive and welcoming places. The Admissions to Schools Bill will provide an over-arching framework to ensure that how schools decide on who is enrolled and who is refused a place in schools is more structured, fair and transparent.”

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection recently published its report on the Draft General Scheme; this followed public hearings at the committee involving parents and education partners among others. The recommendations from the Committee will be considered further in the context of the drafting of the Bill.

Among the provisions in the new Bill, will be a requirement for all schools to make an explicit statement in their admissions policy that they will not discriminate against an applicant for admission on the grounds of disability, special education needs, sexual orientation, family status, membership of the traveller community or race.

The Bill will also enable the National Council for Special Education in respect of children with special educational needs and the Child and Family Agency in respect of other children to designate a place for a child for whom no school place is available.