Mixed response to proposed school admissions changes

Some schools express concern about how the changes may impact on administration

Plans to eradicate school waiting lists and booking deposits for school places have been broadly welcomed by education and parents’ groups

Plans to eradicate school waiting lists and booking deposits for school places have been broadly welcomed by education and parents’ groups

 

Plans to eradicate school waiting lists and booking deposits for school places have been broadly welcomed by education and parents’ groups.

However, some school management organisations have expressed concerns about how the changes might impact on administration. The draft bill proposes the removal of the current process which provides a framework for parents to make an appeal to the Department of Education where they are unhappy with a school decision on student admission.

The draft bill, which was published by the Department of Education today, proposes to transfer the appeals process back to schools.

Ferdia Kelly of the Joint Managerial Body, which represents 400 voluntary secondary schools with religious patronage across the country, says his members are not in favour of a “cumbersome” appeals process.

“We don’t want an appeals process that will bog us down in bureaucracy. The Section 29 Appeal process is working well. There are less than 300 appeals lodged each year, out of well over 100,000 admissions, and less than half are successful. This is because schools’ admission policies, as they currently stand, are working.”

Don Myers, president of the National Parents Council – Post Primary, said he welcomed “some aspects” of the bill.

“We get a lot of queries form parents regarding the demand for booking deposits and we feel they should not be charged. I understand that schools have an issue with parents putting their child’s name down on a number of lists and that may be why this practice has developed. However, it works both ways and often parents don’t get that money back if a place is not offered.”

However, Mr Myers said the bill would not do away with undersupply in a small number of key schools where problems arise. “Where you have a number of schools in an area, one will be seen as the best. Not everyone can get in there. That’s still going to be an issue.”

Aine Lynch of the National Parents Council – Primary, said the draft bill had “moved the discussion on”.

“Booking deposits were never an issue at primary level but recently they have become a major feature. This bill, if enacted, would do away with that problem. The inability of some students to access certain schools may be a problem for a minority but for those it affects it is very significant. We have been waiting for movement on this since we first got involved in the consultation process back in 2008,” she said.