TWO EDUCATIONAL GROUPS due to appear before the Oireachtas Education Committee today are against the scrapping of a clause which allows 25% of school places to be reserved for the children and grandchildren of former pupils.
A Labor Party bill on the matter is under discussion today, with five education bodies due to appear before members.
Speaking ahead of the committee meeting, labor education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the school your parents and grandparents went to should be irrelevant.
“The Labor Bill would seek to amend the School Admissions Act and remove an element of elitism that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have agreed to include in the School Admissions Bill under the previous government.
“At the moment, 25% of the places at the school are reserved for the children or grandchildren of former students of this school. This is exclusive and elitist legislation that was included only at the request of some influential fee-paying schools,” he said.
Ó Ríordáin claims that this is a deliberate attempt “to maintain the royal line of succession through particular elite second-tier schools and it was done at the behest of these elite second-tier schools”.
“Not widely used”
However, in its opening statement to the committee, the Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) states that in order to inform their submission to the committee on the matter, they have consulted with their member schools to determine how many schools grant priority to parents’ children. and grandparents in their admissions policies.
It found that only one in 67 schools prioritizes children of parents who have attended the school among applicants from the catchment area, indicating that this criterion is not widely applied.
“In this case, the real challenge is the lack of places in sufficient numbers to meet demand in the catchment area,” he says.
John Irwin, Secretary General, and James Duignan, President of CHAC, state in their statement that they both agree that school boards seek to balance competing legitimate interests, stating that their group would believe that the clause is not deleted.
The Joint Management Body (JMB) states in its opening statement that it is important to note that there seems to be a misconception that when schools choose to include the parent/grandparent criterion, 25 % of the total number of places made available are automatically reserved for qualified candidates.
“In our experience, very few schools reach the authorized cap of 25%. The school may not be oversubscribed, or the criteria may have been placed on the oversubscription criteria list such that it is not met at all, or when it is met there are very few places left to award,” the band said.
Shortage of school places
The JMB said it supported keeping the section of the law, but said it “welcomes the committee’s focus on oversubscription and shortage of places in schools more generally”.
NABMSE, which represents the Boards of Management (BoM) of Special Schools and Regular Schools with Special Classes, states in its opening statement that it supports the removal of the paragraph from the School Admissions Bill.
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Meanwhile, the Teacher Training Board (ETB) says ‘it would not be a cause of great concern to us if it were removed, provided it was removed for every school’.
Pat McKelvey, Principal of Cork ETB Schools, will tell the committee today that the schools have an open and transparent approach to admissions, and where alumni criteria exist in a very small number of schools it is so low in the list of selection criteria and is not often used.
The National Association of Principals and Vice-Principals (NAPD) will say that prior to today’s hearing, it researched and identified a post-primary school that applies the parent/grandparent test and asked them how much of their current first-year students relied on this criterion to gain access to school.
“The answer was no. Many first-year students had parents and/or grandparents who attended the school, but all of the current first-year group qualified to be allocated a place under the other criteria administered by the school. before the parent/grandparent test,” his opening statement sets it apart.
“This raised the question of the relevance of this criterion for this school. This situation could well be repeated elsewhere in the country. Although I recognize that this is a complex issue for some schools. The strength of belief in the purpose or vision of Irish education to promote equality and inclusion will in turn determine the decision that is required to pass or reject the Education (Admission to schools),” NAPD Director Paul Crone said.
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