School Admission Policies to be radically reformed – Daly

Education Committee publishes report in to School admission policies.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection has called for first-come-first-served school waiting lists to be phased out, given that they can discriminate against newcomers to an area. With the so-called “section 29” appeals process to be replaced, the Committee is calling for an independent and transparent appeals process, which could possibly be provided for on a regional basis.

In a report on upcoming schools admissions legislation, the Committee also expresses concern at the proposals for a derogation for children of past pupils and school staff members, and argues that a school should not be permitted to give priority to a student on the grounds that he or she is the son or daughter of a former student or a staff member of the school.

The Committee considers that a school should be permitted to give priority to a student who has a sibling who is currently attending the school.

The recommendations are contained in the Committee’s Report on the Draft General Scheme of an Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2013, launched this morning.
Other recommendations include that:
· Where a school is designated to enrol a student with special educational needs, resources should be provided by the Department of Education and Skills within a statutory timetable

· The proposals protect the integrity of Irish medium schools while ensuring that no discrimination takes place in relation to admissions. For instance, schools could allow a high priority in their enrolment policies to the small percentage of schoolchildren who are native speakers of Irish (outside of the Gaeltacht).

· Schools’ admission policies be written in a simple and plain style so that they are accessible to all parents.

The report acknowledges that multiple patronage and ethos as a basis for policy can lead to segregation and inequality in the education system and that the the objectives of admission policy should be equality and integration.
Jim Daly TD and member of the Oireachtas Education Committee said “There are many historical legacy issues associated with access to Education in this country, many of which do not reflect the realities of the Ireland we live in today. This report recognises the many changes in Irish society today and the need for legislation to ensure there is equal access and opportunity for every citizen seeking an education as guaranteed under our Constitution.”
A copy of the report has been forwarded to the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn TD, to assist in finalising his legislative proposals in relation to this issue. The report will also inform Committee stage consideration of the Bill when it is presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas later in the year.
Access report: