School-admissions reform for children of past pupils may be delayed

Labour spokesman says Bill needed to correct ‘elitist’ intake rules

New legislation which would remove a rule allowing 25 per cent of school places to be reserved for children of past pupils looks set to be delayed for a year by the Government.

The Labour Party has tabled the Education (Admission to Schools Bill) 2020 which would amend the School Admissions Bill introduced by the previous Government to remove the provision whereby a quarter of school places are reserved for children and grandchildren of past pupils.

The Bill is due to be debated in the Dáil on Thursday and will be voted on next week. However, the Cabinet has agreed to introduced a “timed amendment” which would delay consideration of the Bill for a year.

A Government spokeswoman said this was being done as many schools are already in the process of finalising admissions policies for 2021.


Delaying the Bill would allow for further consideration of the proposals, she said.

Labour spokesman for education Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said he was “extremely disappointed to hear the Government’s response.”

‘Clearly elitist’

“It is actually quite a simple Bill to correct a clear case of elitism within the School’s Admission Act. Having 25 per cent of intake kept over for children and grandchildren is clearly elitist and wrong.

“I am quite surprised that the Cabinet haven’t seen the merits in the Bill to just pass it. I will be interested to know who has lobbied individual members of Cabinet on this and why they feel this element of the Act needs to remain in, but Labour will not be supporting this extension of time to discuss the matter further.

“It is very simple, either you think it is wrong or you don’t, and that will be basis on which we vote next week.”

He said the provision to reserve 25 per cent of school places for the children or grandchildren of past pupils was done “solely at the behest of certain influential fee-paying schools”.

“This is a deliberate attempt to keep the royal bloodline of succession through particular elitist second-level schools and it was done at the behest of those elitist second-level schools. What if somebody’s father or grandfather did not go to second level, or his or her mother or grandmother, or what if somebody is not from the area and, therefore, did not attend a second level school nearby? What happens if a person is not from this country?” he asked.

“It should not matter who your parents or grandparents are because in a republic we are supposed to cherish all of the children of the nation equally.”

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times