It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. The enrolment policy must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.
This Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in the area. Parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.
Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of the Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. Appeal against Permanent Exclusion, Suspension or Refusal to Enrol
The Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (EWS) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500.
Education (Admission to Schools) Bill, 2015
In September 2013, a Draft General Scheme for an Education (Admission to Schools) Bill as well as Draft Regulations on Content of Policy and Draft Regulations on Admission Process were published for discussion ahead of enacting legislation. The Regulatory Impact Assessment in relation to the Draft General Scheme of the Bill was also published.
The publication of the draft General Scheme followed a public consultation process held in 2011 when a discussion paper on school enrolment was launched. The discussion document entitled Discussion Paper on a Regulatory Framework for School Enrolment contained suggestions on how to make the process of enrolling in schools more open, equitable and consistent. The purpose of the paper was to lead and provoke debate on enrolment policies and practices.
The draft General Scheme and draft regulations were referred to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection, to allow a full public discussion, including inputs from parents and the education partners. The Committee considered the submissions received, and invited individuals and groups to a public hearing. The Committee’s report was published on 05 March 2014. The report can be viewed at http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/mediazone/pressreleases/name-20988-en.html.
Concerns were raised with the Oireachtas Joint Committee in relation to the absence in the draft General Scheme of a separate appeals process that is independent of the Board of Management. The report of the Committee recommended that if the “section 29” process is replaced that there should be an independent and transparent appeals process that could possibly be provided for on a regional basis. Having regard to the Committee’s conclusion in its report, this issue is being re-examined.
On 25 March 2014 the Government gave approval for drafting the Education (Admission to schools) Bill 2015. The Bill was published on 8th April 2015 however, the Bill did not proceed through the Houses of the Oireachtas before the dissolution of Dáil Éireann on 03 February 2016.
Education (Admission to Schools) Bill, 2016
The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, published the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 on 6th July 2016
Publication of the Bill delivers on a commitment in the Programme for Government to publish new School Admissions legislation taking account of current draft proposals and addressing issues including publication of school enrolment policies, an end to waiting lists, introduction of annual enrolment structures, and transparency and fairness in admissions for pupils and their parents.
The Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 aims to make it easier for parents to enrol their children in a school that meets their needs.
The Explanatory Memorandum for the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 and the Regulatory Impact Analysis provide supporting information in relation to the Bill.
The Education (Admission to Schools) Bill passed second stage on the 17th November 2016.