Funchion welcomes steps to abolish Baptism Barrier
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Education Kathleen Funchion TD has this morning welcomed the announcement by Minister for Education Richard Bruton that amendments have been put forward by his Department which will remove the baptism barrier from most state funded schools.
Teachta Funchion said:
“I am pleased to hear the Minister’s announcement this morning that concrete steps have been taken towards the removal of the baptism barrier.
“The proposal to award powers to the Minister to compel schools to open specialised classes within mainstream schools is needed urgently, given the current chronic shortage and the discretion for schools to refuse to open classes to facilitate children with specialised needs.
“There is a chronic shortage of these classes and children are travelling huge distances to secure a place in specialised classes, often at the cost of a number of their badly needed therapies as the school is outside the child’s CHO area and the therapists attending the class are unable to provide therapies for those children.
“The majority of schools funded by the state are Catholic schools and under current legislation priority can be given to children from Catholic families rather than those living in the locality of the school.
“This means that the estimated 20% of families who have no religion and whose children were not baptised could be excluded from their nearest school on that basis parents are baptising their child simply to secure a school place.
“I also welcome the announcement of an amendment to the School Admissions Bill which will allow for Gaelscoileanna to prioritise enrolment for children who have a level of Gaeilge as this will ensure these children are able to continue with their education through the medium of Gaeilge once their child has an age appropriate level of proficiency in the language.
“This Bill has been a long time coming and I hope that these amendments and the Bill itself receive the support of both houses.
“These amendments will help many children access schools locally in a more fair and equal manner and I would expect that, once the Bill is passed, the Minister will implement all sections of the Bill without any further delay.”