Labour Bill to stamp out elitism in schools admissions progresses to pre-legislative scrutiny

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
31 January 2022
  • Bill seeks to amend the School Admissions Bill to remove the automatic right of entry of past pupils as part of the admission criteria for school entry

A Labour Bill to stamp out the elitism in how schools admit pupils will be discussed in the Education Committee tomorrow, February 1st. Labour’s Education (Admission to Schools Bill) 2020 seeks to amend the School Admissions Bill introduced by the previous Government to remove the provision whereby 25% of school places are reserved for children and grandchildren of past pupils.

Speaking in advance of the committee meeting, Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said:

“In a Republic, the school your parents and grandparents went to should be irrelevant. Labour’s Bill would seeks to change the School Admissions Act and remove an element of elitism that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil colluded to include in the Admissions to School Bill during the previous Government.

“Right now, 25% of school places are reserved for the children or grandchildren of past pupils of that school. It is an exclusionary and elitist piece of legislation that was included solely at the behest of certain influential fee-paying schools.

“This is a deliberate attempt to keep the royal bloodline of succession through particular elitist second level schools and it was done at the behest of those elitist second level schools. What if somebody’s father or grandfather did not go to second level, or his or her mother or grandmother, or what if somebody is not from the area and, therefore, did not attend a second level school nearby? What happens if a person is not from this country?

“I tabled an amendment when this Bill was first going through, and it was unfortunately voted down. This Bill seeks to eliminate that provision within the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 and to ensure that when students or families present themselves to a second level school or to any school in this country, they can do so on the same basis.

“It should not matter who your parents or grandparents are because in a Republic we are supposed to cherish all of the children of the nation equally. I hope that the Government will acknowledge that this provision is an error within the Education Act 2018 and that it will be amended and removed.

“I look forward to the committee debate tomorrow and over the coming weeks where experts and stakeholders will discuss how best to progress this badly needed change.

“We cannot allow a situation to continue whereby some children are cherished more than others which is what has happened by allowing a quarter of an intake of any particular school to be reserved, if the school so wishes, for the children and grandchildren of past pupils.”

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