Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
188. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when school placement will be offered in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare and whose tuition was cut from 18 hours to 9 home tuition hours per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26004/10]
Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Mary Coughlan): I must advise you that the selection and enrolment of pupils in schools is the responsibility of the authorities of the individual school. My Department’s main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.
Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected.
My role as Minister does not involve me identifying specific placements for individual children, but requires me to provide for Education by providing grants and funding for buildings, equipment, salaries of teachers, as well as the recognition of qualifications and inspection of facilities.
Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of a Vocational Educational Committee (VEC) school to the VEC in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.
The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The National Educational Welfare Board will be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement.
Where a child is without a school placement, Home Tuition support may be provided to parents to assist in providing for their child's education, as an interim measure, pending the sourcing of a school place. I am advised that in this instance, that a grant of nine hours per week for Home Tuition has been provided by the Department for the periods, during school term time, that the child has been without a school placement and that there has been no reduction in the number of tuition hours.
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