Wednesday 22 November 2017

Overhaul of enrolment in schools 'falls short'

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

PLANS for a radical overhaul of school enrolment rules have met a mixed reaction from the education community.

While there was a broad welcome for the thrust of the change proposals, there is criticism that they don't go far enough in some respects.

Draft laws published by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn are aimed at ensuring that enrolment policies and procedures apply fairly and don't discriminate against applicants for reasons such as a learning difficulty, or because of lack a family connection with a school.

Reforms include a ban on booking deposits and pre-enrolment interviews.

They will set October 1 of the preceding year as the start date for accepting applications, and limit to 25pc the number of past pupils' children that a school may enrol in any year.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) said the proposed legislation failed to tackle a number of key issues, such as parents making multiple applications to different schools and then accepting places in several schools.

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan also questioned the designation of October 1 of the preceding year as the earliest date for enrolment.

"The date could also put pressure on parents who might have to await a decision before either seeking another school or arranging childcare," Ms Nunan added.

Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) general secretary John MacGabhann said the minister had not seized the opportunity sufficiently to deal with the exclusionary parties of fee-paying schools.

The Irish Primary Principals' Network (IPPN) said that anything that brought equity to enrolment opportunities for children in Irish schools was welcome.

Irish Independent

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