On 15 May, 2017, Minister Bruton announced that he will hold a Forum on the Role of Religion in Primary School Admissions as part of the broader consultation process on the subject currently being carried out.
The call for written submissions as part of this consultation which ran from 24th January to 20th March 2017 attracted almost 1,000 responses from a combination of individuals, schools and stakeholder organisations.
Invitations to the half-day National Forum, to be held on 29th May 2017, were sent to all major education stakeholder organisations as well as to every organisation or individual who made a written submission as part of the public consultation.
The Minister said: “This is a highly complex and difficult issue, with strong feelings genuinely held on all sides of the argument. There are no easy solutions to this problem, with difficulties in areas including constitutional law, administration of the schools system and protection of minority religious groups. However doing nothing is not an option in my view. While only 4% of our primary schools are under non-religious patronage, 10% of the population in the recent census stated that they are non-religious, with this figure even higher for those among usual parenting ages. One third of all marriages now take place outside of any religion.
My aim is to find a solution which addresses this problem, while respecting the very strongly-held and legitimate desire of minority religious groups to run schools which are genuinely of their own ethos. I hope that people will respond positively and constructively to my invitation to this Forum, and participate in the event in a spirit aimed at finding viable solutions to this complex and difficult issue”
The role of denominational religion in the school admissions process and possible approaches for making changes
Extension of deadline for submission of written submissions by 4 weeks to Monday 20th March
The Minister for Education and Skills has announced an extension of the time period for the receipt of written submissions in this consultation process by 4 weeks, meaning that the new deadline is Monday 20 March. This means that the total time available for written submissions is 8 weeks. This phase of receiving written submissions is part of a broader consultation process which will include additional steps, including any follow-up consultation that is required, collation of responses and development of next steps. These additional steps will take additional time, and the Minister is conscious of legislative deadlines impacting on this work, in particular the Equal Status (Admissions to Schools Bill) which is due before the House again shortly.
The Minister has received a number of representations from stakeholder groups who stand to potentially be impacted by any changes, coming from different sides of the debates involved, as well as from Oireachtas colleagues on different sides of the Houses, urging that the time period be extended, and he is anxious to facilitate the fullest possible engagement. One issue which has been raised is the impact of the mid-term break and the need to allow groups who depend on volunteers to have the time to consult their members and communities and submit responses which are properly considered and comprehensive.
Minister Bruton commences 4-week consultation process on plans to address the role of religion in school admissions
Minister Bruton has announced a 4 week consultation period beginning from today 24th January 2017. The consultation document is available on the Department’s website at the following link: "The role of denominational religion in the school admissions process and possible approaches for making changes"
On 16 January 2017, Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD made a speech on the subject of the role of religion in the admissions process to primary schools.
In the speech the Minister stated that he believes:
- it is unfair that a non-religious family, or a family of a different religion, living close to their local publicly-funded school finds that preference is given to children of the same religion as the school living some distance away
- it is unfair that parents, who might otherwise not do so, feel pressure to baptise their children in order to gain admission to the local school.
The Minister set out four possible approaches for dealing with this subject and stated his intention to seek views from people and groups who might be impacted by the proposed changes or have views on the proposed changes.
The Minister is interested in hearing the views of the groups who stand to be impacted by changes as well as any members of the public with views on this issue.
Submissions should follow the format set out in the consultation document, and should be forwarded to the following e-mail address email@example.com
Please note that feedback will be subject to the Freedom of Information Acts (details available at www.education.ie/en/The-Department/FOI) in which case particular information exempt under the Freedom of Information Acts, such as personal contact details and commercially-sensitive information, may be omitted.
As this is a public consultation submissions may in any event be published on the Department’s website and by submitting feedback you are indicating your consent to this approach and waiving your anonymity.