New school admissions bill is "meaningless" on a practical level for parents

Discrimination in school admissions will still be a problem, says Educate Together

The new school admissions bill will not ban discrimination according to Educate Together's chief operating officer, Emer Nowlan.

She told Newstalk Breakfast that on a practical level the new bill, proposed by Education Minister Richard Bruton, is "meaningless."

Discrimination in school admissions only becomes an issue, she says, when a school is oversubscribed.

However, the new bill will only ensure that where a school is not oversubscribed it must admit all students applying.

“The fundamental system problem here is that there isn’t the right balance of school types for parents”. 

In recent years the demand for non-denominational schools has increased, but at present there are not enough schools to meet the rising demand. 

The new bill may change the way non-denomination schools can admit students - i.e. waiting lists may be replaced by a lottery type system.

But parents will still find it difficult to get their children a place as schools can only accommodate a certain number every year.

The proposed new bill follows a protest at Leinster House on Sunday, where hundreds of people called on the Government for an end to religious discrimination in State-funded schools.

"Our schools really struggle to allocate places fairly but that's because there aren't enough schools. There need to be more Educate schools. There is growing demand for this model," Ms Nowlan said.

"We need to re-balance the system."