26 Limerick City children miss out on secondary school places

Limerick Principal and Deputy Principals Association Chairman Eoin Shinners

26 CHILDREN in  Limerick City will be told tomorrow that they have no offer of a place in second level education from any of the city’s schools.

Under the city’s Common Application System (CAS) offers were posted to families yesterday and are due to arrive in homes this morning.

However, the families of children who have received no school place offer will not be informed until tomorrow that their applications have been refused.

According to RTÉ Education Correspondent Emma O’Kelly, the applications relating to 26 children have been rejected, because Limerick city’s schools are at capacity. She reported that most of those who have been left without a school place are city children.

The news follows a warning earlier this month from the Department of Education that it was anticipating “significant challenges” in areas across the country in ensuring sufficient school places were available for 2023, particularly at post-primary level.

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Chair of the Limerick Principal and Deputy Principals Association Eoin Shinners said that many of this year’s applications had come from outside of the city. He said he was confident that more capacity would be freed up as rural children offered places opt instead to attend schools closer to where they live.

In a report on the RTÉ website, Ms O’Kelly stated that while there are capacity pressures across the country, Limerick’s unique enrolment system makes it possible to quantify the scale of its shortage.

The Limerick figure was initially much higher, but almost 50 additional places were created in recent days in a small number of schools to try and meet the demand.

The department has said the current rise in the second level school going population is likely to peak in the next year or two. It is the result of a demographic ‘bulge’ that has been moving through the education system.

There are also an additional 1,000 Ukrainian children due to transfer from primary to post-primary this year.

The Limerick common application system includes all of the city’s schools as well as two second level schools in the county and one that is fee-charging.

Parents must tick a minimum of 11 schools in order of preference, otherwise their application is not accepted. In practice this means they must list 11 out of 13 available options, because four of the city’s schools are boys only and four are girls only.

Every year a number of families are offered a school that was close to the bottom of their choices. This means they are offered a place at a school that they may actively not want their child to attend.

Following controversy over the exclusion of a small but significant number of children – mostly boys from poor areas of the city – the CAS  was introduced in 2005 to address this issue. Children from both within and outside the city boundaries are entitled to apply.

While the system is administered centrally, each school still applies its own individual enrolment policy in choosing which pupils to admit.

This year the scheme received 2,114 applications, of which 2,088 were successful.