Plans by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan to introduce limits on the number of children of past pupils that can be admitted to schools drew a mixed response.
The minister has said the 10% limit on the offspring of past pupils being admitted has not been finalised amid signs that some Fine Gael TDs are unhappy with the move after Ms O’Sullivan’s predecessor Ruairi Quinn favoured a 25% ceiling.
Fine Gael TD and former teacher Jerry Buttimer said: “I welcome the discussion, but think it is far too early to start putting a percentage on the limits.”
Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said he backed the move but said it did not go far enough.
“We welcome that there is intent to make school admissions more transparent…
“However we are aware that this will not address the difficulties for parents whose children cannot access schools in their locality because of the retention of a provision that schools will be allowed to give preference to children of a particular faith over others.
“It should be noted that even the Ombudsman for Children has said that this law should be amended.”
Sinn Féin also called on the minister to ensure that admissions rules cannot be used against Traveller children. “We are concerned at the proposals that places will be reserved for parents of past pupils which will inadvertently allow schools to discriminate against other children and Traveller families will be particularly affected by this.”
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue called for guidance cuts to be reversed.
“This Government is treating guidance counselling as if it is a second rate subject rather than an integral component of the second level system.
“Guidance counselling is more than advising students about subject choices and career options; counsellors are also equipped to deal with pupils’ emotional and psychological difficulties.
“The decision to manage guidance provision within the standard teaching allocation has resulted in an effective increase in the pupil-teacher ratio at second level and undermined the work of counsellors. This has led to a massive 51% reduction in one-on-one counselling supports in secondary schools, with even greater cuts in disadvantaged areas.”
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