The admission system parents need to go through to secure a place for their children in secondary schools is “flawed”, costly, and in some cases “unaffordable” and needs to be changed.
This is the view of Labour Galway West TD Derek Nolan who has written to the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn, calling on him to put in place “a regulated admissions structure for second level schools”.
Dep Nolan said that at present parents must pay a deposit of up to €200 to three or four different schools to ensure their child can secure a place in one of them.
This week, the TD met with two different sets of parents who had each placed deposits of €200 and €125 to register for secondary school places.
“This is a requirement of many secondary schools across the country and failure to pay will mean a child cannot be considered for a school place,” he said. “Even though the deposit is repayable if the child does not secure a place, this is still a huge amount of money and equates in many instances to an entire week’s wages. For many families this is simply unaffordable.”
Dep Nolan pointed out that schools do not co-ordinate the timing of the offers of places. As a result parents can incur serious expense if they accept a first offer only to be later offered a place in their desired school.
“This means that instead of getting their deposit back, parents will be forced to pay for two school places at huge expense,” he said. “If each deposit was €200 and they paid this to two schools they accepted places from, they will end up with a bill of €400, and €200 of this will be to pay for a place they will never use.”
Dep Nolan said problems could be avoided if schools made their offers at the same time but that overall the entire system is in need of “urgent reform”.
As a result he has written to Minister Quinn to request new national guidelines for secondary school admissions, the introduction of common admissions time tabling, and the affordability of fees.