The Catholic Primary Schools Management Association has broadly welcomed the public consultation process on school admission policies announced by the Minster for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD. However, it noted that the issues arising from it may well impact in adverse ways on minority groups and urges that these be taken properly into account.
Responding to the Minister’s announcement, Mr Seamus Mulconry, General Secretary of Catholic Primary Schools Management Association, said, “This issue is being misleadingly referred to as the ‘baptism bar’. It is important to clarify that there is no requirement for parents to have their children baptised in order to gain admission to a Catholic school.
“The issue the Minster is proposing to address only occurs in the small number of schools who are oversubscribed. The vast majority of Catholic schools are not oversubscribed and enrol all applicants. The issue mainly arises in areas of Dublin and in small pockets of the commuter belt surrounding the capital.
“Reforms to admissions policies will do nothing to alleviate the shortage of school places: only extra school places can achieve that.”
The CPSMA also pointed out that the Church was already engaged in this issue and that Archbishop Eamon Martin, in a recent interview in the Sunday Business Post, stated that, “I could understand where a local parish primary school is in an oversubscribed situation, that preference would be given to children who are in that local Catholic parish. And then maybe to children who are in the local area who may not be Catholic.”
Mr Mulconry concluded, “While we see the Minister’s reforms in this area as having little impact on Catholic schools, we believe that attention needs to be given to the impact on any such changes to minority faiths and to the ability of those communities to live out their own ethos.”
The Catholic Primary Schools Management Association is a recognised school management association and represents all the boards of management of the over 2,900 Catholic primary schools in the Republic of Ireland. For more see www.cpsma.ie.