The clock is ticking for all boards of managements to have their Draft Admissions Policy (DAP) submitted to their patron by 30 April. The Admissions Act prohibits certain practices but equally allows schools certain latitudes. It is important that schools use the templates provided by the Department of Education and Skills in Circular 0007/2020. We provide some tips on drafting this policy.
Using the template
A starting point in this process is the template. Schools should also be cognisant of any directives from a patron body, particularly on the characteristic spirit and general objectives of the school.
Boards of management are required to recite that it must admit each applicant unless the school is oversubscribed, or the parent of the student refuses to confirm in writing that the code of behaviour or the school is acceptable to him or her.
Oversubscription and feeder schools
The oversubscription section is the most sensitive part, giving schools latitude, provided they align with the legislation and circular. Siblings in particular may be prioritised. Pupils of parents/grandparents who attended the school can also be prioritised subject to a maximum of 25%. Whilst primary schools cannot give priority to preschools, post primary schools can give priority to feeder schools. All Irish speaking schools can give priority to Irish speaking pupils.
You can no longer compel parents or pupils to attend for an interview, and the payment of fees or contributions to the school is prohibited. Academic ability cannot be considered unless the application is for a special class or special school.
In any cases where an offer of admission has been made prior to the 1st February 2020, the school must set out the number of offers and acceptances in the annual admission notice for the year concerned.
When the board of management approves the initial DAP, consultation with parents of students attending the school and staff should commence. Given current circumstances this can be done remotely. The board can consider this feedback in advance of submission to the patron.
Parents should be aware that the Act allows for the sharing of certain information between schools in order to facilitate the efficient admission of students.
30 April is the latest date to submit your DAP to the patron
15 September, the patron must approve or return seeking modifications
29 September, is the latest date modified DAP is returned to patron
1 October, schools can commence the admission process for the 2021/2022 intake group
The most scrutinised part of the policy is likely to be the oversubscription section. It is only when an admission policy is challenged by an unsuccessful applicant that it will be road tested. Ultimately, it may take a number of judicial reviews in the High Court to fully establish parameters.
If schools adhere to the nine anti-discriminatory grounds contained in the Admission Statement they should be in a position to defend any challenge to the policy. For more information regarding the drafting of robust admission policies, contact a member of our Education team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.