Quinn: Law will get rid of 'soft barriers' for enrolment of children with learning difficulties
on 02/09/2013 10:00:44
Ruairi Quinn this morning published the proposed new rules to make the process of enrolling a child in school fairer.
The legislation will also bring an end to the practice of interviewing applicants or their parents, waiting lists and of seeking deposits from parents.
Minister Quinn says one issue that needs to be addressed is certain schools turning away children with learning difficulties.
Mr Quinn said: "A parent with a child whose academic abilities have been diminished or who has learning difficulties, they were encountering what the National Council for Special Education described as 'soft barriers'.
"They were basically told 'maybe you should take your child to another school, we're not properly equipped'"
"And part of the motivation for that from the school's point of view, it is alleged, was that they wanted to have high academic achievement associated with the school."
The Irish Primary Principals Network has welcomed the draft legislation.
They say the new procedures will give children with special education needs, children from the new Irish community, traveller children and children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, an equal opportunity to be enrolled in the school of their parents' choice.
The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) also welcomed the draft legislation.
Clive Byrne, Director of the representative body for second level school leaders, said the new laws will add clarity and transparency to enrolment procedures, providing greater certainty for parents, pupils and principals in the process.
A 2009 ESRI report - 'Adapting to Diversity: Irish Schools and Newcomer Students' - stated that 80% of schools enrol all students that apply.
Mr Byrne said: "School leaders have, for some time, made the case that the lack of structure surrounding the enrolment process was resulting in difficulties. The draft legislation, and supporting regulations, means we can now have a clear admissions policy to follow. This is a better, fairer approach for everyone involved.
The NAPD also called on the new procedures to be made available through school websites.
Mr Byrne said: "It is important, particularly for parents, that the new laws, when passed, are readily available. The NAPD believes that as a starting point, the new procedures should be made available on all school websites."