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Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 should be brought to conclusion without delay – Ombudsman for Children

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, welcomes the publication of amendments to the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 by the Minister for Education and Skills. “The General Scheme of this Bill was published over four and a half years ago and while I appreciate the challenges involved in drafting this legislation, I hope that it will now be brought to conclusion without further delay.”

“I welcome the amendment which will remove religion as a criterion that can be used in school admissions in over 95% of primary schools. While recognising this as a significant step, provisions remain which allow minority faiths to continue to use religion as a criterion in the admissions process in order to protect their ethos. However, it remains the position of my Office that Section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act should be repealed so that no child can be denied access to publicly funded education on the grounds of religion.”

“My Office has previously made a number of recommendations in relation to the designation of school places, including the necessity for flexibility when designating a school place for a child with special educational needs, and I welcome the amendment which gives the Minister the power to compel a school to open a special class or classes where the National Council for Special Education has identified a need for such provision. Care must be taken to ensure that these classes are adequately supported and resourced.”

“I must express concern at proposals which allow a school to allocate 25% of their places to the children of past pupils. There is no justifiable reason for the retention of the past pupil criterion which can give rise to instances of indirect discrimination against particular groups of children such as children who are members of the Travelling community, children of immigrant parents, and families who are new to the area.”


Niamh Connolly
Communications Manager
Ombudsman for Children’s Office
01 8656806/ 087 1484173

Note to Editors:

The following links to the OCO website provide further information on our submissions and observations:

Advice of the Ombudsman for Children on the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016

Observations of the Ombudsman for Children’s Office to the Department of Education and Skills’ consultation on the role of religion in the school admissions process

Advice on the General Scheme of the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2013