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Schools will have to cap the number of past pupils’ children they admit

Minister Jan O’Sullivan is due to announce new legislation later today.

Image: Shutterstock/Romiana Lee

Updated 9.57am

MINISTER FOR EDUCATION Jan O’Sullivan says she is ready for a ‘lively debate’ with schools who are against proposed new rules on limiting the number of reserved places for the children of past pupils.

She announced a raft of new measures for school admission policies at the INTO’s conference today.

A 10% cap on places reserved for the children of past pupils is currently proposed, down from the 25% suggested by the last Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, but O’Sullivan said consultations will take place on the regulations to tease out this figure.

Union leaders have said it is feared this could lead to discrimination if not implemented correctly.

Minister O’Sullivan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that a “fair and transparent” system is needed for school admissions.

She warned that without these regulations, children who live right beside a school could be excluded if too large a percentage is reserved for the children of past pupils.

Siblings

The new legislation will also block schools from charging a fee in the admissions process, and will still allow them to favour the siblings of current pupils – this “makes absolute sense,” O’Sullivan said.

The NCSE and Tusla will also be able to designate a place for a child in a school, and a Parents and Students Charter be required for each school.

During her speech, the Minister also stressed that  reducing class sizes will be “a personal and political priority” for her during 2015.

O’Sullivan she is ready for a ‘lively debate’ and intensive lobbying from schools opposed to the past-pupils limit.

Speaking to the same programme, president of the ASTI said it will be key for the regulations “to be fair and for people not to be discriminated against”.

“On the face of it, it doesn’t seem to be a huge difficulty,” Philip Irwin said.

He also defended not extending an invitation to the Minister to the union’s annual conference today, saying “we’re in dispute, she’s not talking to us at the moment”.

The Minister said the conference would have been a chance to discuss the impasse on Junior Cert reform.

President of the National Parents Council Don Myers said he believes new regulations of school admissions will receive a “mixed reaction”, but stressed it will be positive that schools will have to detail why exactly a pupil is refused admission.

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