Bill to remove ‘baptism barrier’ for entry into Irish schools passes

Bill to remove ‘baptism barrier’ for entry into Irish schools passes

A BILL that will prevent Irish schools discriminating on the basis of religion has passed all stages of the Oireachtas.

The Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2016 will now go to President Michael D Higgins to be signed into law.

The Bill will prevent the use of the so-called 'baptism barrier, whereby Catholic primary schools can prioritise baptised children when they are oversubscribed.

Roughly 90 per cent of primary schools in Ireland are run through the Catholic faith.

Schools of minority faiths will be able to prioritise members of their religion if they are oversubscribed, however this provision will be reviewed after three years.

Following the Bill’s passage through the Oireactas on Tuesday night, Education Minister Richard Bruton thanked TDs and Senators for their work support.

“Historic reforms in this Bill will remove religion as a criteria in admissions in virtually all primary schools, ban waiting lists, end fees relating to admissions,” he posted on Twitter.

“The School Admissions Bill will make it easier for parents to access their local school and to enrol their children in a school that best meets their needs."

Schools will also be obliged to open classes for children with special needs where necessary, while Irish language schools may give priority to Irish-speaking pupils.