Minister for Education and Skills commences sections of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act, 2018 in respect of school admission

January 16, 2020 0

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D has today (Wednesday 15th January 2020) announced new rules are coming into effect at the start of February in relation to admission to schools. The Minister has signed a Commencement Order in respect of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act.

admissionsThe new laws around admission to schools will ensure greater transparency, equity and consistency in school enrolment generally and they will come into operation in time for admission processes for the 2021/2022 school year.

From February 2020 every recognised school will be required to draft a new school admission policy in accordance with the act’s requirements following consultation with the patron, the staff of the school and parents of current pupils.

The Minister said:

These key changes also include the introduction of certain procedures and timelines for school admission processes which will give parents greater confidence that school admission processes are transparent and fair.

Schools will be required by law to accept all applicants where they have places and if there are more applicants than places available, selection criteria will be required.

The Commencement Order provides for the new laws to come into effect in respect of applications made for admission to schools for the 2021/2022 school year onwards.

Commencing the relevant sections of the act now will provide schools with time to start putting in place their arrangements for the new framework. 

The Minister said:

This means that, from 1 February 2020, boards of management will have three months to prepare a draft admission policy having first consulted with the patron, parents of students attending the school and staff of the school.

Newly revised school admission polices under the commenced provisions of the act will include the following:

  • That the school admit all applicants, where the school has places available and is not oversubscribed.
  • Set out the manner and sequence in which selection criteria will be applied in the case of oversubscription.
  • Set out requirements for schools to make offers and for applicants to accept offers and arrangements where offers may be withdrawn.
  • Place a ban on waiting lists, apart from waiting lists maintained for the school year concerned. There is a provision that will allow for a five-year period for current waiting lists to expire, allowing schools to honour commitments they have already made to parents.
  • Require all schools to consult with and inform parents where changes are being made to their admissions policies.
  • Prohibit interviews, consideration of a student’s academic ability, skills or aptitude, consideration of a parent’s occupation, financial status, academic ability, skills or aptitude, apart from in the case of the stated exceptions, as a consideration for the offer of a place.
  • Provide details of the school’s arrangements in respect of students, where the parent, or the student if they are 18 or over, has requested that the student attend the school without attending religious instruction.

New arrangements introducing an Annual Admission Notice will contain important information for parents regarding the application process, including key dates and the number of places available, which will ensure a consistent and transparent approach to school admission processes.