Radical alteration of school enrolment policies planned

Quinn to ban application fees and first come first serve policies in schools

Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn.

Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn.

Wed, Apr 3, 2013, 10:23

School waiting lists will be curtailed and application fees abolished under a draft Bill to be brought to Government by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Practices such as offering preference to children of past pupils and first-come-first- serve enrolment policies may be banned under the proposals announced by Ruairí Quinn yesterday.

Under the new proposals schools would no longer be permitted to charge parents for application to schools. Non-refundable fees of up to €100 are currently charged by some post-primary schools, primarily in the fee-paying sector.

Speaking at the annual ASTI conference in Wexford yesterday the Minister described as “insidious” the requirement for children and their parents to attend compulsory open days or be interviewed by schools, and said that these practices will be curtailed.

Enrolling students on a first-come-first-serve basis will also be reviewed. While the practice might appear reasonable, he said, it can mean “that children who move to an area from other parts of the country or from other countries, can be effectively excluded from schools that have more applicants than places”.

In the 20 per cent of schools where demand exceeds supply there was a need for clarity on enrolment, he said.The draft heads of the Education (Admission to School) Bill 2013 will go to Government shortly.