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Priorities for admissions are laid out where applications exceed supply

ENROLMENT policies vary across different school types at both primary and post-primary levels.

Well over 90pc of primary schools are Catholic and Catholic children in the parish are generally entitled to a place.

Guidelines issued by the Catholic Primary School Management Association say that where applications exceed supply, applicant children will be enrolled in accordance with the following order of priority.

  • Catholic children living within the parish boundary, and sisters and brothers of school pupils.
  • Catholic children living outside the parish boundary who do not have a Catholic school within their own parish.
  • Children of current staff, including ancillary staff.
  • Other children living within the parish boundary.
  • Other children living outside the parish boundary.

Denominational schools are legally entitled to give priority to children of their particular faith in order to protect the ethos of the schools. Similarly, gaelscoileanna give priority to children whose families opt for an all-Irish school. The Educate Together multi-denominational primary schools offer places on a first-come, first-served basis.

At second level, the practice varies considerably. Vocational, community and comprehensive schools in general take all comers, as do many traditional voluntary secondary schools. But some schools -- particularly fee-paying secondary schools -- have long waiting lists.

Many schools give priority to siblings, children of former pupils and of staff.

All schools are required to have admissions policies that do not discriminate against children due to their race, sexual orientation, gender and family status. The 1998 Education Act requires that school's admission policies must have regard to children who have disabilities or other special educational needs.

But schools must also have regard to the right of parents to send their children to a school of their choice.

However, the Department of Education has been advised that some of the existing policies indirectly lead to discrimination and need to be changed.

Irish Independent