Posted by Mother Hen on 19/05/2008. Tags: Enrolment Policies
School enrolment policies, both at primary and second level have been a source of debate and frustration among parents for some time now. In an effort to bring together information for parents, we have been updating our schools database at both primary
level with enrolment policies and procedures for individual schools. This has been a slow process but we will continue to tip away at it on your behalf! Let us know in the comments against individual schools if you find something different.
School admissions policies are governed by section 33(g) of the Education Act, 1998
(No. 51 of 1998). Beyond setting out some general principles and requirements, the Education Act 1998
is quite flexible about the content of any admissions policy. Over time many have put in place practices which are not fully clear to parents.
In September 2007 the Employment Equality Authority expressed its concern in its position paper
at the emergence of segregated primary school provision for black and minority ethnic students. In April this year, Minister Mary Hanafin's audit of school enrolment & race
also highlighted what most parents and commentators suspected, i.e "some schools are assuming disproportionate shares of responsibility for enrolling children of all backgrounds and needs within their local community.” The report
also highlighted how retaining lengthy waiting lists (e.g. pre-enrolling children from birth ) or providing preference to children of past-pupils placed non-nationals and children of indigenous families who were moving house, at a disadvantage. Practices, which many parents will know, are equally common at post-primary level as they are at primary level.
I can personally vouch for the lengthy waiting lists. Having had my daughters name down for five post-primary schools in south Dublin since she was in Senior Infants (now in 5th Class) I have already been told that she has not been offered a place in the initial round of offers (sounds like CAO!) for three of the schools! Following on from her published audit report, former Minister Mary Hanafin has scheduled a conference on school patronage for next month. A letter has been issued to all Education Partners
inviting submissions on follow up policy options.
With 92% of the country's primary schools currently managed by the Catholic Church , their role in schools has an enormous impact on the debate. Vision 08 - A Vision for Catholic Education in Ireland
, published by the Irish Bishops' Conference ahead of the Department of Education conference next month, explores the role of the church in a changing Ireland. It warns that, without a clear vision, Catholic schools "are in danger of being taken over by other agendas such as the points race or social elitism". However, at the publication of the pastoral letter on education the bishops have acknowledged that the population of Catholics here no longer warrants the current level of Catholic schools.
Last January the Archdiocese of Dublin approved a new school enrolment policy
which will see a small number schools for the first time setting aside a quota of places for non-Catholic pupils. Until this change all schools belonging to the Archdiocese were obliged to enrol Catholic applicants first.
Lets see what happens with next months conference & submissions.
p.s. I hope to post a blog on the current default rules you might find for a school enrolment policy shortly.