Where problems lie when searching for the best education for a child
Published 14/06/2011 | 05:00
> Restricting entry to all-Irish schools to children of parents who are fluent in the language.
David McWilliams's book 'The Pope's Children' gave expression to the view that the all-Irish gaelscoileanna, in urban areas at least, are dominated by a highly motivated, middle-class elite who gain entry for their children on the basis that they speak Irish at home.
> Favouring children of past pupils.
The "old-school tie" is the popular description of the practice of giving priority to children of past pupils, teachers or a benefactor of the school. Most often associated with fee-paying schools, but it is common. Schools say it helps build their ethos, but it is at the root of an Equality Tribunal finding that its application amounted to indirect discrimination against a Traveller.
> First come, first served.
This leads to parents racing to put their son or daughter's name down for a school as soon as they are born, leading to five-year waiting lists, which has the effect of excluding families who have recently moved to an area.
> Special needs pupils.
Schools in the vocational sector complain that they take more than their fair share of pupils with special needs -- such as those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or those with a disability or learning difficulty -- often as a result of another school suggesting to parents that it is better equipped to deal with them.
> Booking deposits.
Although disallowed, some schools seek non-refundable "administration fees", of, say, €50, to put a name on a waiting list.