Dáil Questions-Education.

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Dáil Issues, Education

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the basis upon which she is satisfied that there is no religious discrimination in the admissions policy of national schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 3rd March, 2015.
Reference Number: 8737/15
Freagra

Minister Jan O’Sullivan

Schools are not permitted to discriminate against an applicant for admission on any of the nine grounds set out in the Equal Status Act.

However, the equality legislation makes provision for exemptions to apply in the case of single sex schools and in the case of schools where the objective is to provide education in an environment that promotes certain religious values.

The legislation provides that any primary or post primary school that has this objective may admit a student of a particular religious denomination in preference to other students. The legislation also provides that such a school can also refuse to admit a student who is not of that religion but only where the school proves that this refusal is essential to maintain the ethos of the school.

Schools that comply with the requirements of the equality legislation do not therefore discriminate on religious grounds.

To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to introduce a comprehensive pre-school education system, linked and integrated to our national schools; the research that has been undertaken by her Department in relation to developing policy in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 3rd March, 2015.
Reference Number: 8736/15
Freagra

Minister Jan O’Sullivan

The principle vehicle for delivery of pre-school education is the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which was introduced in January 2010 by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and provides early learning to children in the year before they commence primary school. I consider this to be a comprehensive pre-school education system with somewhere in the region of 94% of eligible children enrolled.

Children should, of course, experience a continuum of education from pre-school through to primary and Aistear, the Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Education, is designed to be used in all settings where children are present, whether that setting is a pre-school or a Junior Infant classroom. With the provision of an integrated curriculum, I don’t consider there is a requirement to physically integrate pre-primary education with primary education.