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school entrance policies addressed by bill

NEW legislation aimed at 
reforming the school admission process will help address issues such as educational inequality, the Minister of Education has pledged.

Speaking as over 56,000 students across the country received their Leaving Cert results, Jan O'Sullivan said the purpose of the Admissions To School Bill - due to be enacted before the end of the year - was to ensure schools have an open-door policy to children from all social backgrounds.

Commenting on an ERSI 
report which found that students from working-class schools were less likely to go on to third level, Minister O'Sullivan said a good social mix in schools was very important.

"I will be bringing a piece of legislation in the autumn, which is the Admissions to School Bill," she said.


"One of the purposes of that bill is to get a social mix in schools to ensure schools do have an open-door to children from a variety of social backgrounds.

"My personal view on the best type of school is a school that has a mix of children from a variety of social backgrounds.

"We have seen the best examples of that in the towns rather than in the cities because in the towns there is often just one school and everybody goes to the one school," she added.

Minister O'Sullivan said the introduction of bonus CAO points in Honours Maths had "cleary delivered" the intended results.

The newly-appointed Minister said she doesn't see any reason to put an end to the bonus system as suggested by her predecessor Ruairi Quinn.

"It has clearly delivered the results that we wanted it to 
deliver, so at the moment I don't see any reason to stop it. I think it's positive," she said.

"It is resulting in more students taking higher level papers and being successful at the higher level papers, so I don't see any reason to stop it at the moment."


When asked about Junior Cert reform, Minister O'Sullivan said she was supportive of the changes but insisted they would be gradual and it was a partnership process.

"It is going to start with English in September. It will be a very gradual process. I 
will be meeting all of the partners in education - the teachers, the parents, management bodies and the students in 
the autumn and, in fact, starting in the next week or two. I 
think reform is important but it is a partnership process," she said.

Meanwhile, Minister O'Sullivan said she would be slow to do anything "drastic" to the Leaving Cert because it is a "very much trusted exam".