The DES today set out four possible approaches for discussion on school admissions. These are:
- A ‘catchment area’ approach prohibiting denominational schools from giving preference to children of their own denomination who live outside the catchment area ahead of children not of that denomination who live inside the catchment area.
- A ‘nearest school rule’ allowing denominational schools to give preference to a child only where it’s that child’s nearest school of that denomination.
- A quota system allowing a denominational school to set aside a certain number of places for children of its own denomination and the remaining places would be allocated on proximity to the school or a lottery.
- An outright prohibition on denominational schools using religion as a criterion in admissions.
The DES intends to announce a public consultation on these proposals.
While there is little detail on what this might entail this proposal appears to be in line with INTO policy. In its submission to the Forum on Pluralism and Patronage in 2011 the INTO called for discussions with all the education partners on a common enrolment procedure for all schools and an examination of the provisions of the Equal Status Act (2000), specifically Section 7.3(c), which allows schools to discriminate on religious grounds in enrolling students. The union stated its belief that this provision should be deleted from the legislation.
Date: Monday, 16 January 17