It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998.
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. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must comply with the relevant sections of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 which were commenced on the 3rd of October. The selection process must also 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 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) Bill completed all stages in the Oireachtas on the 10th July 2018.
The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 (Act No. 14 of 2018) was signed by the President on the 18th July 2018.
Minister Bruton signed a Commencement Order on Wednesday 3rd of October 2018, bringing the following sections of the Act into operation immediately:
- Section 11 - Provision amending the Equal Status Act 2000 to remove the existing provision permitting schools to use religion as a selection criteria in school admissions:
This section provides for the amendment of the Equal Status Act 2000 to remove, in the case of recognised denominational primary schools, the existing provision in section 7(3)(c) of that Act that permits such schools to use religion as a selection criterion in school admissions.
Under this provision, there will be 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:
Post Primary Fee Paying Schools List
Post Primary Boarding Schools List
- 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.
The Order also provides that the following section will commence on 3rd December 2018:
- 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. This power will come into effect on Monday 3rd December 2018.
The remaining provisions of the Act require consultation with the Education Partners for the purposes of drawing up regulations and procedures before they can be commenced.
The Department has begun the process of consultation with the Partners in relation to the preparation of regulations that are required alongside commencement of the remaining sections of the Act. This consultation is ongoing.