herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

School family ties to be cut under new proposal

Minister for Education Jan O Sullivan pictured speaking to the media
Minister for Education Jan O Sullivan pictured speaking to the media

Schools will only be allowed to reserve one in 10 places for the children of past pupils under new plans.

Under Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan's proposal, schools will also be required to make an explicit statement in their admission policy that they will not discriminate on grounds such as sexual orientation, disability or race, special educational needs, or against Travellers.

Ms O'Sullivan's clampdown goes much further than proposals by her predecessor Ruairi Quinn, who wanted to set a 25pc limit.

Ms O'Sullivan was due to explain her thinking on the 'parent rule' when she addresses the conference of the Irish National Teachers Organisation today.

She will say that her view is that a "cap of perhaps 10pc of all school places is as high as such a threshold should be set".

Ms O'Sullivan said the new legislation aims to provide a fair and transparent system for children to access schools.

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Ms O'Sullivan said the legislation was at an early stage and there would be consultation.

However, she did say she believed that schools should be allowed to continue favouring the siblings of current pupils.

The Admissions to School bill aims to bring more fairness and structure into the enrolment process at both primary and post-primary level, including a ban on schools charging parents to apply for places.

guarantee

Other significant changes include awarding new powers to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the Child and Family Agency, Tulsa, to designate a school for a child who has no place.

But the minister's desire to slash to 10pc the places a school may guarantee for children of past pupils will provoke an outcry from certain schools, including those in the fee-paying sector that place a high value on social networks.

Such a limit would only come into play if a school has more applications than the number of places it is offering.

Ms O'Sullivan is not planning to impose any restrictions on a school's right to enrol brother or sisters of pupils, or past pupils.

hnews@herald.ie

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