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(Gaeilge) Imní san Iarthar faoin bpolasaí oideachais Gaeltachta

February 15, 2017

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Bruton to announce school admission reform options

January 16, 2017

Possible options to reform school admissions to limit or remove the role that a child’s religion plays in the process will be announced today by the Minister for Education.

Richard Bruton will outline four options and announce a consultation process on the issue.

Highlights of his speech, to be delivered at a seminar later today, were sent to education journalists.

Mr Bruton says he believes it is unfair that publicly-funded religious schools can give preference to children of their own religion who might live some distance away, ahead of other children who live close by.

The Minister says while 96% of primary schools here are Christian – the vast majority Catholic – over a third of couples getting married here are choosing civil non-religious ceremonies.

The options include allowing schools to favour children of their own religion only when those children live within the school’s catchment area, or when that school is their nearest one.

A third option is the introduction of quotas, allowing preference on religious grounds for a limited proportion of places.

The fourth is an outright ban on using religion as a factor in admissions.

Under this last option, the Minister says, religious schools could require parents or students to indicate support for the school’s religious ethos.

Mr Bruton will say there is a most important need to avoid possible impacts on the wishes of minority religions – such as Protestants – to run schools in accordance with their ethos and admit children from their communities.

Other possible consequences, he says, are breaches of the constitution, or the creation of so-called ‘postcode lotteries’ where schools in less advantaged areas could suffer.

The Minister says he will be commencing a process of consultation, and is interested in hearing the views of groups who are affected, as well as members of the public.

Mr Bruton will say the desire of religious parents to educate their children in their faith is welcome and should be respected.

But he says that non-religious parents or parents of minority religions should not be unfairly disadvantaged.

The Minister says while this unfairness must be addressed, he believes that there is “no easy fix” to what he calls a “highly complex and contested area”.

He will deliver his speech later at a seminar organised by Equate, an organisation that is campaigning for equal access to publicly-funded schools for all children.

Atheist Ireland said three of the options “would just fine-tune the religious discrimination in access, and indeed would result in some Catholic families being discriminated against.”

Fianna Fáil education spokesperson Thomas Byrne has said the Minister was “floating ideas” and not “taking any real action”.

He added that the Oireachtas Education Committee is “in the middle of carrying out a consultation on this issue and has held hearings before Christmas and will have further hearings shortly.  Then it is envisaged that we will legislate.”


Concern raised over standard of Irish among teachers

April 2, 2015

Concerns have been raised at the Oireachtas Committee on Education by Irish language groups, over the lack of teachers at primary or secondary levels with adequate levels of Irish to teach in Gaelscoileanna.

Bláthnaid ní Ghréacháin of Gaelscoileanna Teo – a national, voluntary organisation supporting the development of Irish schools at primary and at post-primary level – said applicants generally tick the box to say they can teach Irish, however she said there is a big question over the standard of Irish of teachers. 1041

She also pointed out that there is currently an 45% over-subscription to Gaelscoileanna.


Ruairi Quinn plans to make school enrolment fairer

April 3, 2013

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn is to publish draft legislation in the coming months aimed at making school enrolment policies fairer. The legislation is aimed at making policies more just, especially for newcomers to an area, and other groups, such as children from the travelling community. It has been almost two years since the Department of Education published a discussion document on school enrolment policies. It outlined proposals to make the school entry system fairer to all, proposals including the outlawing of the practice of giving priority to the children of past pupils or staff. Practices such as this disadvantage newcomers and others, including children from the travelling community. Yesterday evening the minister said he would be bringing draft legislation to Cabinet shortly. Parents would no longer have to pay simply to apply for a school place. It would also outlaw schools interviewing parents and children prior to acceptance. Mr Quinn said the draft legislation would be published in coming months for consultation. Later today Mr Quinn will address the Teachers’ Union of Ireland’s annual congress in Galway. Yesterday, he was heckled during his speeches at the conferences of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation.


Patrons of new secondary schools announced

July 26, 2012

There will be 12 schools that will be run by secular bodies, while religious organisations will run the other two.

Four of the new schools will open in September 2013 and the remainder will open the following year.

The new schools are in response to a massive population surge.

The VECs have been awarded patronage of the bulk of the new schools.

Irish language body An Foras Pátrúnachta will run two, both in Co Dublin suburbs.

Educate Together has been awarded patronage of one school in Dublin’s Blanchardstown, but it will also share patronage of a new school in Drogheda with the local VEC.

The education body, which currently acts as patron only at primary level, has expressed delight with the news.

The religious schools sector is also happy.

For the first time in more than 20 years, two new religious secondary schools will open.

There will be a Catholic school in Mulhuddart in Dublin and a Church of Ireland school in Greystones, Co Wicklow.