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Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018

Changes to School Admissions

The former Minister for Education, Richard Bruton TD, commenced four sections of the new Education (Admissions to Schools) Act, 2018 on 3 October 2018. The Act has been a long time in gestation with different iterations of the Bill. The Act is intended to respond to the demand from parents/the public for more transparency in schools’ admissions policies and procedures and, in particular, to address what has come to be known colloquially as the ‘baptism barrier’.

Prior to its enactment, the matter of schools admissions had been the subject of various High and Supreme Court judgements and topical discussion – particularly in geographical areas where schools are over subscribed on a regular basis.

The sections of the Act which have been commenced are as follows:

Section 8 – allowing, from 3 December 2018, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to designate a school to open a special class
“following a number of steps”.

Section 9  – prohibiting the charging of fees as a condition of fees as a condition of admission.

Section 9 – requiring schools to co-operate in relation to admissions.

Section 11 – prohibiting the use of religion as a criterion in admissions except in the case of a minority religion. The Education (Admission to Schools) Act, 2018 amends the equal status legislation in order to give effect to this provision. 

The remainder of the Act has not been commenced and the sections not commenced deal with a range of matters, including the following:

  • The preparation/drafting of admissions policies.
  • Annual admissions notice.
  • Prioritising admissions criteria.
  • The role of the principal in admissions.
  • Section 29 Appeals.
  • The role of the patron and the minister.

INTO Head Office has commenced negotiations with Management and the NCSE in relation to the implementation of the Act and its impact for schools.

In addition, the INTO’s Legal and Industrial Relations Section is currently preparing a Questions & Answers Guide on the new legislation which will be published in a forthcoming issue of InTouch.

The topic is also being covered in the current series of INTO Principals’ Seminars.

Updated: November 2018