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Ruairí Quinn: School enrolment to be 'more structured, fair and transparent'

The minister is to publish a bill which will curtail the “over-use of preferential treatment” in the enrolment process.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn made the announcement during his address to the ASTI yesterday (file photo).
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn made the announcement during his address to the ASTI yesterday (file photo).
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, Ruairí Quinn, has said that he wants to make the enrolment process for schools “more structured, fair and transparent.”

Quinn made the announcement during his address to the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) at their annual conference in Wexford yesterday.

Referring to the Education Act of 1998, the minister said that it’s aim had been to provide the “maximum accessibility” to schools, which he said worked in most schools in Ireland, “most of the time”.

This same legislation was a “light touch”, however, in the way in which it did not offer any tailored measures to deal with the different admission issues that could arise.

Outlining the difference between a school becoming oversubscribed and a “situation where an individual child can find no place at all”, Quinn said that he planned to draft the Education (Admission to School) Bill 2013 to address this.

Making clear that he didn’t “want to unnecessarily intrude into how schools do business,” Quinn said that a full public discussion would follow the publishing of the bill, which would include the input of the Oireachtas committee on education and education partners.

Regulations to accompany the bill would also be published.

“The draft legislation will make it clear that some methods of controlling admissions will no longer be permitted,” he said.

Saying that the first-come, first-served system that currently exists in many schools “might look reasonable to some”, the minister said that this could impact on children who move to an area.

“That situation cannot be allowed,” he said, adding that the draft legislation would radically alter how waiting lists operated.

‘Preferential treatment’

The charging of parents to simply allow them to apply for a place at a school on behalf of their child will also be curtailed, as will what the minister described as “preferential treatment”.

We have seen an over-use of preferential treatment for the children of past pupils, or more insidiously, the requirement for children and their parents to attend compulsory open days or be interviewed. These practices will be curtailed. Any school that is faithful to the Education Act in relation to providing maximum access will have nothing to fear from my proposals.

The education minister is due to address the Teachers’ Union of Ireland at their conference in Galway later today.

Read: Teachers discuss Croke Park II at conferences >

More: Ruairí Quinn faces red cards and heckles during INTO address >

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Paul Hyland

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