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22nd May 2022

‘Exclusionary’ and ‘elitist’ – time to end allocations of school places for family connections

school places

It’s 2022 – should school places now not solely be dedicated by catchment areas?

You know – as opposed to religion, final situation, and, indeed, family connections.

In this regard, Ireland – to me as a Scandinavian – seems really old-fashioned and stuck in the past.

Currently, some schools across the country are still allocating a certain percentage of available school places for pupils who have family connections to that school – be it in the form of relations currently being in the school, or have previously attended the school.

This, says the Labour Party, needs to end – and describes the practice as both “exclusionary” and “elitist”.

Criticising the practice, the Labour Party says that the Minister for Education has failed to amend legislation aimed at stamping out so-called elitism around school admissions policies.

Earlier this week, Labour’s Spokesperson on Education said legislation produced by the party would have eliminated the practice, but it was shot down by Norma Foley.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin told Breaking News the reality is that the private school lobby wanted the provision and ultimately, they get what they want from this Government.

“I can only come to the conclusion that if you are from the fee paying sector, you get what you want,” Mr Ó Ríordáin said.

“It is now law, and our amendment to remove it is being stymied.”

He added:

“We had a year that the Minister was asked to go from the second stage to the next stage, she was supposed to do her review in that year. She hasn’t done it clearly, she wants more time, and in our view, it is getting ridiculous.”

Schools implement their admission policy

Currently, it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an admissions policy in accordance with the Education Acts, 1998–2018 and the relevant departmental policy and circulars.

It is the Department of Education’s main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in the area. 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, the Department of Education states on their website, adding:

“The selection process 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.”