in a school - private or public - in Dublin is not just a matter of showing
up at the door. Many schools in Dublin have a waiting list. Even the public
schools. This is particularly true in the suburbs with reasonably affordable
housing. And if the local school doesn't have room for you, tough! They don't
have to take you. Que sera sera, and sayonara, baby.
I know a couple who returned from Australia
and tried to enroll their son in any of 4 area schools near where they are
living. So sorry, no places available. They eventually enrollled him in Naas,
an hour's drive away, where they were planning to move in a few months anyway.
The system in operation is this:
Each school sets up its own enrollment policy. The publicly funded
schools have to take children up to their enrollment limit which
is based on the number of teachers in the school. But, if the
school is just about filled to capacity, then priority is given to
children living within the school's catchment area, particularly
those with brothers and sisters already enrollled in the school.
Then various other factors like the age of the applicant figure
into the calculations. For example, a 4 year old would usually
have a lower priority than a five year old.
Waiting lists are established
for those who cannot be accommodated, and as space opens up,
the children on the waiting list are called in order. Generally,
at the beginning of the school year (September), all applicants
are accommodated. The problem really comes when kids move into
the area during the middle of the school year. Then, if a school
is full up, your child might not be allowed to enroll.
Throughout most of the country,
this bit of arcane education policy is of purely academic interest.
But, in the fast growing suburbs of Dublin and in Limerick, this enrollment policy
is suddenly a hot issue. Many schools are bursting at the seams,
and students are indeed turned away when they show up in the
middle of the year.
Worse, many coming into the system for the first time even in September are turned away from their first and second choice schools. It's a problem which the government is fumbling.