Tuesday, June 14, 2011



I am delighted to welcome the most recent initiative from the Minister Ruairí Quinn in relation to the restrictive admission policy practices of some schools.

The details of the initiative are outlined below in the communication received from the Minister's office yesterday.:

Dear colleague,

This morning, I am launching a document entitled “Discussion Paper on a Regulatory Framework for School Enrolment”, which contains proposals on how to make the process of enrolling at primary or second level schools more open, equitable and consistent.

Central to the debate on enrolment is the need to ensure a fair and transparent system at all of our schools, which does not discriminate unfairly against students or parents. At the heart of this paper is the simple question, ‘Can we find a better way for all?

80% of all schools enrol all children who present, according to a 2009 ESRI report, while selection criteria are used for the other 20% of schools. Appeals have risen by over 750% since the procedure was introduced in 2002.

One of the main problem areas with enrolment in schools is when demand exceeds supply of places at a school. The discussion document sets out a number of options to be considered in these cases:

    • Age of applicant. Schools could give, as is often the case now, priority to children who are older.
    • Remove waiting lists. This is seen to disadvantage new comers to an area.
    • The practice of giving priority on a first come first served basis, which can result in long waiting lists in schools or even queues forming outside schools at the time of enrolment. However, if such a decision was taken, consideration would have to be given as to how to deal with existing waiting lists.
    • Siblings in the same school. It would seem reasonable to continue to give priority to students who already have siblings in a school.
    • Remove the practice of giving priority to a student on the basis of being a relative of the staff, board of management, past pupil or benefactor of the school.
    • Faith. Continue the right of denominational schools to give priority to children of a particular faith
    • Give priority to pupils on the basis of proximity to their schools.
    • Replace requirements for competency of parents in a particular language with a criterion that parents should respect the linguistic policy of the school.
    • Ensure that admission to a school is not based on a pupil’s skills, whether academic or otherwise.
    • Admission should not be contingent on the payment of a booking deposit.

The overall approach in the discussion document is to regulate only those aspects of enrolment policies and practices where a common or national approach may be desirable. Otherwise, maximum discretion remains with the school and board of management.

However, the paper also sets out possible new sanctions in a case where a school or board of management is not compliant with any new regulations. In such cases, a patron or the Minister may have the power to appoint an external admissions officer and remove the control of enrolment from a board.

I am inviting education partners and interested parties to submit their views on school enrolment to the Department by the 28thOctober 2011. A new regulatory framework will then be devised on school enrolment.

Yours sincerely,

Ruairi Quinn, TD
Minister for Education and Skills