Thursday 14 December 2017

Bruton: I want 25pc cap for family of past pupils

Richard Bruton Photo: Tony Gavin
Richard Bruton Photo: Tony Gavin
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Education Minister Richard Bruton has said he personally favours reforming the school enrolment system so that up to 25pc of places are reserved for children of past pupils.

Mr Bruton also pledged to "explicitly ban" discrimination in the admission process - which may see a clampdown on Catholic schools showing preference for students of their own denomination.

However, both issues - which have caused significant controversy - are being referred to an Oireachtas committee for consideration.

The move was confirmed as Mr Bruton announcement the long-awaited Admissions Bill, which is expected to be enacted in the autumn.

Other measures contained in the bill include the banning of admission fees by schools, as well as the abolition of so-called waiting lists.

Schools will be obliged to consult with parents in relation to their admissions policies, which must be made public.

And the National Council for Special Education can intervene if a child with special needs is not accepted.

Nonetheless, Mr Bruton has introduced a watered-down version of a set of proposals that have been kicked around within Government for several years.

In relation to reserving places for relatives of past pupils, the Dublin Bay North TD said he acted on the advice of Attorney General Máire Whelan by referring the measure to an Oireachtas committee.

"We will deal with that at committee stage. The advice from the Attorney General was very clear that such a provision should not be dealt with my way of ministerial intervention. So instead we will bring forward a committee stage amendment to do that," Mr Bruton said.

But Mr Bruton said he favours a system previously proposed by former Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, which would see up to 25pc of places reserved for relatives of past pupils.

"I'm consulting with other parties on this but that seems to be a sort of a ball park that we can accommodate."

Mr Bruton said he believes the bill will see "children and families get a more certain and consistent approach to school admissions."

Irish Independent

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