24th April 2013 - IPPN calls for CAO-style application process for school places

The Irish Primary Principals' Network (IPPN) proposes a CAO-style application process for school places in an effort to standardise enrolment practice. 
In a submission to the Department of Education and Skills, the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN), the professional body for primary school leaders, called for a ‘clearly defined, legally robust national enrolment policy, with a standardised basis for admission to all schools’.

IPPN’s Director Seán Cottrell said school enrolment policy, mainly at second level, is uneven.
‘Using a web-based system, there should be one annual date for applications by parents and another for a response from schools, with parents ranking schools in order of their preference. Then, parents could get their first, second or third choice, depending on supply and demand factors, in a method similar to the CAO application process for college,’ said Mr Cottrell.
His call comes as the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, prepares to publish draft legislation aimed at making school enrolment policies fairer.
Mr Cottrell said some schools give preference to children based on historical family links, academic or sporting achievements, how early they joined the queue, or whether their parents could afford the advance deposit.
IPPN wants one enrolment application form for all schools, with clusters of schools defining their catchment areas and cooperating on shared enrolment practice.
‘Children with currently enrolled siblings and those living closest to a school should have priority over others. Families that have traditionally lived within a school’s catchment area, and attended that school, should not be disadvantaged by those living in newer houses located closer to the school,’ said Mr Cottrell.
IPPN believes that securing a school place should not be influenced by the fact that the child’s parents are past pupils or teachers.
‘Neither should benefactors of the school, scholarships, multi-annual waiting lists, booking deposits and aptitude screening be among the criteria, official or otherwise, required for enrolment in any school. Schools are funded based on the number of children enrolled. IPPN believes that extra weighted capitation values should be applied to Traveller children, new Irish children, children from designated disadvantaged areas, and children with special education needs under the new national enrolment policy. Schools that “deflect” challenging enrolments should have their capitation grants reduced,’ said Mr Cottrell.
He said a fairer and more transparent enrolment process would relieve stress on many parents.

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