Elitist school admission policies must end

07 February 2024

Labour’s education spokesperson Aodhan Ó Riordáin TD has called for action on the ongoing struggle faced by parents who are unable to secure school places for their children at the second level.

The current system, which reserves a quarter of school places for the children or grandchildren of past pupils, perpetuates exclusion and elitism, exacerbating the challenges faced by families seeking quality education for their children.

Deputy Ó Riordáin said:
“The difficulty faced by parents, particularly in commuter areas of Dublin, in securing second-level school places for their children is unacceptable. It is clear that the Department of Education must abandon the archaic policy of reserving 25% of school places for children and grandchildren of past pupils. This provision is a relic of elitism that has no place in our modern society.

“It is imperative that we prioritise fairness and equality in education. Giving preferential treatment to children and grandchildren of past pupils over students who live closer to the school is unjust and discriminatory. In 2021, Labour introduced legislation aimed at eliminating this discriminatory provision within the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018. It is time for the government to act on this legislation and ensure that all students and families are treated equally when seeking admission to schools.

“We need more forward thinking. We know this problem is a result of lack of planning when new housing estates are being built. Local Authorities need to be given the resources required so future communities have adequate school places.

“Labour’s Bill sought 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. There can be no further delay. As many parents seek to settle on a school place for the forthcoming term, I am urging Minister Foley to make education genuinely equal for all.”

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