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Common sense solutions needed to address annual chaos of post-primary school admissions – Currie

28th March 2024 - Emer Currie

A common application process would streamline post-primary school admissions, alleviating stress for parents and students, and giving clarity to the Department of Education on overall shortages, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Emer Currie said: “The pressing issue of post-primary school admissions needs to be addressed urgently. The lack of integration across local schools often results in applications to post-primary overlapping, leaving many students uncertain as to whether they will secure a place in their area – sometimes right up to August. This lack of clarity is unnecessary and adds stress to an already daunting experience for both parents and students.

“A Common Applications Process (CAPPS), similar to successful models in North Dublin and Limerick, could address current difficulties and I have raised this matter in the Seanad. Under this approach, a common application form with a single deadline would be utilised, allowing families to apply to schools in their area simultaneously, but also giving them the opportunity to list their preferences.

“Each school retains its own admissions policy, while integrating the CAPPS process, making sure the students who want places in particular schools are prioritised. The schools also manage the process together through a committee, which speeds up the entire process.

“Moreover, fostering increased collaboration between primary and secondary schools via the CAPPS process could facilitate stronger partnerships, enable proactive identification of student needs and contribute to more effective forward planning for special classes and places.

“I acknowledge the proposed process won’t solve everything, in particular for people applying to extremely popular schools, but having spoken to principals and parents in Limerick and North Dublin, they see it as a significant improvement to the current system that exists across the country.

“There is no substitute, however, for the Department of Education staying on top of population growth and demand for places in school areas like Castleknock in my own constituency of Dublin West, where this year we have been severely let down.

“Existing legislation states that the Minister may, from time to time, following consultation with the patron or patrons and the boards of the schools concerned, direct two or more boards to co-operate with each other. It makes absolute sense for the Minister to set up exploratory talks with each of the patrons and boards of management in Dublin West about the benefits of such a common approach, and I have written to her to request her consideration of this without any delay.

“We must proactively address the challenges in post-primary school admissions through collaborative efforts and tested solutions. There is just too much pressure and heartache for families otherwise.” concluded Senator Currie.

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