Important Information regarding school administration issues during the current public health emergency
Schools administration during the current public health emergency
It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Acts, 1998–2018 and the relevant departmental policy and circulars.
This Department'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 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.
Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of the Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. Appeal against Permanent Exclusion, Suspension or Refusal to Enrol.
The Education Welfare Service
The Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (EWS) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500
Education (Admission to Schools) Act, 2018
The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 (Act No. 14 of 2018) was signed by the President on the 18th July 2018.
The following sections of the act in relation to the school admission process commenced on 1 February 2020:
The new requirements apply to admissions for September 2021 onwards.
Section 9 (new section 61) – Admission Statement
This section provides that every school must make an explicit statement in its admission policy that it will not discriminate against an applicant for admission on any of a number of grounds specified, 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.
Section 9 (new Section 62) – Admission Policy
This section provides in the main:
- that every school must draft an admission policy following consultation with the school community and publish the policy
- that schools must accept applicants where they have places
- that the policy will set out selection criteria that will be applied in the event of the school being oversubscribed
- details of certain selection criteria that schools are prohibited from applying
- that an admission policy should provide details of the school’s arrangements for students who do not wish to attend religious instruction
- for a ban on waiting lists other than lists compiled in oversubscribed schools for the year in which admission is being sought
- for a limit of 25% of available places prioritised for children/grandchildren of past pupils where an oversubscribed school wishes to use this criterio
Section 9 (new section 62(9)) allows Irish medium schools (where it is their policy to do so) to give priority in admission to students who have a reasonable age appropriate level of oral fluency in the Irish language, where such fluency would be at risk of regressing if the student were not admitted to an Irish medium school.
Section 9 (new section 63) – Annual Admission Notice
This section requires all boards to prepare and publish an Admission Notice each year. The notice must be published on the school’s website at least one week prior to the school commencing its annual admission process and must provide details about how to obtain a copy of the school’s admission policy and application form for admission.
The notice must also provide the following information regarding the admission process for the school for the school year concerned:
- The date on which the school shall commence and cease accepting applications for admission to the school for the school year concerned (there must be a minimum period of 3 weeks between both dates)
- The date by which the applicant shall be notified of the decision in relation to their application, (this must be within 3 weeks of the closing date, or within 3 weeks of the application date for late applications)
- The date/period by which the applicant shall confirm acceptance of the offer of admission
- That the offer may be withdrawn if the applicant does not accept the offer of admission within the timeframe set out
- In relation to the school year concerned: - the number of school places available in the intake group/in the case of a boarding school, the number of residential and the number of non-residential places available/in the case of a school with a special class the number of school places available in the special class concerned
The following sections of the act were commenced in 2018.
Section 11 - Amendment of Equal Status Act 2000: This section amends the Equal Status Act 2000 prohibiting recognised denominational primary schools from using religion as a selection criterion in school admissions.
Under this provision, there a protection to ensure that a child of a minority faith, can still access a school of their faith. The provision provides that a recognised denominational primary school does not discriminate where it admits as a priority a student from a minority religion who is seeking admission to a school that provides religious instruction or religious education which is the same religious ethos or similar religious ethos to the student seeking admission.
Section 9 (new section 64) - School Fees: This provision in the Act sets out an explicit prohibition on the charging of fees or seeking payment or contributions for an application for admission to or for continued enrolment in a school. Exceptions are included in relation to fee charging secondary schools, the boarding element in Boarding Schools and admission to post leaving cert or further education courses run by post-primary schools.
In accordance with section 64(2) (a) and (b) of the Act a list of fee charging post primary schools and a list of boarding schools, have been published on the Department’s website and can be found at the following links respectively:
Section 9 (new section 66) - Co-operation of Boards: This section provides the Minister with the power to direct 2 or more schools to co-operate with each other in the admission processes of the schools concerned. It also provides for schools, for the purposes of facilitating the efficient admission of students, to share information with each other in respect of applications received, offers made and offers accepted.
Section 8 - Special Classes: This section provides the Minister with a power, after a process of consultation with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), the Board of Management and the Patron of a school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs i.e. open a special class or classes, where the NCSE has identified a need for such provision within an area.