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School admissions must be based on equality, not hierarchy of religion and money – O’Brien

7 April, 2015 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Speaking today, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien welcomed the news that the Minister for Education is going to publish school admissions legislation but said that if what has been reported is accurate it won’t resolve the issues that concern most parents and children.

 Deputy O’Brien said;

 “Sinn Féin welcomes that there is intent to make school admissions more transparent, and particularly the proposed requirement for schools to not discriminate on grounds of gender, civil status, family status and so on.”

 “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.”

 “We welcome the plan to prevent schools charging fees for children to apply but in terms of costs in education, what is actually the bigger and more expensive problem is the continued charging of voluntary contributions which many schools are forced to increase due to cuts to their budgets.”

 “We are concerned that 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.”  

 “The media reports indicate that much of the detail will be left to Ministerial regulations so in the absence of this addressing the major problems with school admissions it is hard to see this as anything other than electioneering.”

 “What is needed is a school admissions system that is grounded in a human rights ethos that brings us closer to developing an education system based on equality rather than the hierarchy of religion and money that it’s currently based on.” 

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