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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Sam Boal/
# education equality
Admission fees, waiting lists and explicit discrimination to be banned in schools, says Minister for Education
The new laws have been given a guarded welcome.

A NEW BILL on education will see waiting lists, admission fees and explicit discrimination in admissions all banned.

Education Minister Richard Bruton this morning announced the approval of the Education (Admission to Schools Bill).

Among other things the new laws will:

  • Ensure that where a school is not oversubscribed (80% of schools) it must admit all students applying
  • Ban waiting lists, thus ending the discrimination against parents who move into a new area
  • Ban fees relating to admissions
  • Require all schools to publish their admissions policies, which will include details of the provisions for pupils who decline to participate in religious instruction
  • Require all schools to consult with and inform parents where changes are being made to admissions policies
  • Explicitly ban discrimination in school admissions
  • Provide for a situation where a child (with special needs or otherwise) cannot find a school place, and allow the National Council for Special Education or Tusla to designate a school place for the child

April Duff of Education Equality Ireland gave the bill a guarded welcome, saying it will help erode soft barriers placed by some schools against special-needs children.

“It’s welcome progress,” Duff told

“It’s a good bill but doesn’t address religious discrimination in schools. In that respect, I’m not sure what the point of it is.

It makes there be transparency in admissions, but transparent or hidden discrimination isn’t any better.

“The bill effectively skirts around the edges, in that it would seem it fails to address the most pressing problem in school admissions: discrimination on the grounds of religion in accessing places.”

The government hopes the legislation will be enacted before September 2017.

The minister conceded that many schools remain oversubscribed, adding that “they cannot be blamed for that”.

“But they must be fair and transparent in deciding how to prioritise children for admission to the school. This Bill will make sure that is the case in all schools.”

More: ‘Baptising my son so he could go to school was the most hypocritical thing I have done’

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