herald

Saturday 22 July 2017

Up to 100 children face missing out as Swords schools full

Eileen Rizvi struggled to find a place for son Rayan; also pictured are dad Syed and Maya
Eileen Rizvi struggled to find a place for son Rayan; also pictured are dad Syed and Maya

More than 100 children from north Dublin could miss their first year of primary school due to a lack of places.

Parents from River Valley, Swords, whose children are ready to start junior infants in September, are being told that every school in their locality is full to capacity.

With a population of 68,000, many schools in the area are oversubscribed. Age restrictions and the "baptism barrier" are among the reasons why some children are not eligible for admission.

The Holy Family National School in Swords, for example, prioritises children based on religion and age.

Postpone

River Valley local Stephanie Davis told the Herald she has no choice but to postpone her daughter's education for another year.

Four-year-old Lauryn, who will be five in November, missed the age cut-off point by several months.

"Even though she has an older brother in the school, she wasn't accepted," said Ms Davis.

"I got on to the Department of Education and they said there are 47 junior infant places in Swords, but I rang the schools and they told me they were full."

Ms Davis said her daughter will be "devastated" when she finds out she won't be going to school in September.

"I don't even know how to tell her. She'll be in playschool for another year and the other kids are so excited about starting junior infants."

Eileen Rizvi, from Ridgewood, Swords, said since her family are non-practising Muslims they are being discriminated against by the Irish school system.

She spoke of the difficulty she had in securing a place in school for her son Rayan.

"Our son will be five in August and we also have a 15-month-old little girl who spent most of last year in Crumlin Hospital with a congenital heart condition," she said.

"The first problem that we encountered with the local schools was the fact that we are not Catholic.

"We have just received a place for Rayan in St Cronan's National School after trying literally every school in the Swords area. We were declined so many times and it put a lot of stress on us."

Principal of Holy Family National School Mark Cunningham told the Herald that he has been "inundated" with applications this year.

"We are full to capacity," he said.

"We have 162 places and 267 applicants this year, which is excessive.

"We have six junior infants classes with 27 students in each one of them, but even though we would like a seventh class the Department of Education won't allow it."

Waiting

The Department of Education said there are a total of 13 primary schools in the Swords school planning area, with 11 schools enrolling junior infants.

Indications are that pupils on the waiting list of one school are also on the waiting lists for others.

"The school enrolment position for September 2017 will be clarified when the schools concerned have completed their enrolment process," it said.

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