Labour launch bill to end single-gender school admissions within 10-15 years

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
15 February 2022

Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has today published a bill to end single-gender school admission policies. Deputy Ó Ríordáin said the time has come to bring Ireland’s education system more in line with international norms.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“The fact that so many of our schools are still separated by gender sends the wrong message to children at a young age about gender equality. At a local level, parents are questioning the status quo with most having a preference for mixed gender schools where possible.

“Schools are supposed to reflect the society that they serve. The Department of Education has not given sanction to any new single gender school since 1998 – making mixed gender schools already effectively the policy of the Department. This Bill is about addressing the legacy of single gender schools and move to fully gender integrated schools within 10 years at primary level and 15 years at secondary level.

“Ireland stands almost alone with our gender segregation system and we are out of kilter with the rest European world. While the conversation is rightly happening about the nature of gender equality in our society, education must be a feature of this.

“Bringing our education system into the 21st century would have broader benefits for students. For example, at a secondary school level, we all know that in single gender schools that subject choice can be extremely limited leading to restricted subject choice and gender stereotyping in too many of our second level schools. Segregation also makes it more challenging to break down barriers to gender equality when we separate boys and girls.

“We have a best in class education system in this country and this Bill aims to redress the legacy of single gender schools throughout the country. Labour’s aim is to give every child a fair start at life through the education system, which is why we continued to campaign for free books and free school uniforms for children. Labour’s Education (Admission to Schools Bill) 2020 is currently being discussed at committee stage 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. Practical steps like these Bills will work to improve the quality of our education system.”

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