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School Admissions Bill proposes ban on waiting lists

Posted by SchooldDays Newshound, on 21/11/2016. School Admissions Bill proposes ban on waiting listsTags: Education And Politics

Below are extracts from the Minister's recent speech on the Education (admission to Schools) Bill 2016. Among it's measures are a ban on waiting lists and fees relating to admisions along with a requirement that schools publish their admissions policies, including details of provision for pupils who decline to participate in religious instruction.

Extracts for the Minister's Second Stage Speech (17th November) on the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 - Full speech can be viewed here

"The basic aim of this Government is to use our economic success to build a fair and compassionate society. Few areas are more important to this vision than education. Our ambition in the Action Plan for Education is to make Ireland the best education and training system within a decade.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 is a significant public service reform designed to make it easier for parents to more easily access local schools and to enrol their children in a school that meets their needs.

This Bill is part of a suite of measures that will respond to the expectations of citizens for a more progressive education service. Other measures include:

  • The Parents and Students Charter which will for the first time set out the principles to guide how schools engage with students and their parents

  • Fitness to Teach - for the first time, any person, including a member of the public, an employer or a teacher will be able to make a complaint to the Teaching Council about a registered teacher. Complaints will be possible under a number of headings, including professional misconduct or poor professional performance
    This bill will increase the transparency and fairness of school admissions. It makes clear that every school must be welcoming of every young person –regardless of their colour, their abilities or disabilities. It will help to end the soft barriers that some of our schools erect in the way of children with special needs.
     Publication of this Bill reflects a commitment contained in the Programme for Government to publish new School Admissions legislation taking account of current draft proposals and addressing issues including publication of school enrolment policies, an end to waiting lists, introduction of annual enrolment structures, and transparency and fairness in admissions for pupils and their parents.

     I intend to provide a section by section explanation of the provisions of the Bill.  But firstly, I want to highlight the
    main aims and provisions of this important legislation.

  • A key objective of the Bill and its associated regulations is to improve access to schools for all pupils.
  • In this regard, the Bill will strengthen our capacity to cater for a child who cannot get a school place. This is important and particularly so for children that are vulnerable or at risk. The Bill will allow the NCSE and the Child and Family Agency to designate a place for a child in a school.
  •  It is important to be clear that the Bill does not enable the Child and Family Agency or the NCSE to increase a school’s capacity. A school must have places available for a designation to be made.
  • This Bill will enshrine in law a ban on schools charging parents to apply for a place in school.
  • The Bill, while including provision for single sex schools and denominational schools to reflect in their admission policy the exemptions applicable to such schools under equality legislation, makes clear that every school must be welcoming of every child – regardless of their colour, their abilities or disabilities, or indeed their sexual orientation or membership of the Traveller community.
  • The Bill also requires schools to publish an admission policy which will include details of the school's arrangements for students who do not want to attend religious instruction. This is an important measure which will help ensure transparency from the outset as to how a school will uphold the rights of parents in this regard.

    ........Subsection 64:
    Selection criteria that schools shall be prohibited from applying may include criteria based on:

    •         a student’s prior attendance at a specified category or categories of pre-school or pre-school service;
    •         the payment of fees or contributions to the school;
    •         the occupation or financial status of the parents of a student;
    •         a student’s academic ability, skills or aptitude;
    •         a requirement that a student, or his or her parents, attend an interview, open day or other meeting as a condition of admission;
    •         the date on which an application for admission was received by the school.

    View further details of the Bill and Ministers speech here


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