‘Cruel’ system leaving Limerick children with no secondary school places

Some of the letters of rejection received by the families of Limerick students. Source: RTÉ News

A LIMERICK family who received a clean sweep of 11 rejection letters for secondary school applications are still hopeful that their child will be enrolled in a local school.

Speaking to the Limerick Post this week, the father of one child, who asked to remain anonymous, spoke of the initial frustration and anger he felt as his daughter was informed she would have no place in post-primary education for the coming academic year.

One of 26 pupils across Limerick without a school place, the child’s father said the stress and anxiety his daughter has gone through for the past number of months has been horrible.

“As parents, to be told that the education system cannot provide a place for your child, it should just not be happening. My daughter cried when she got the news,” he said.

“Not for one second do I agree with comments that the shortage of places is because of immigration. This is 100 per cent a failure on our education system, especially that in Limerick.”

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The Limerick parent said that in the wake of the bombshell landing on their doorsteps last week, they have been working with Limerick Education Support Centre, TUSLA, and Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, who has raised the issue with the government.

“You shouldn’t have to go to your local TD to get a school place for your child. We shouldn’t be in this position at all. With the support we have received, we are feeling a bit more hopeful.”

Despite the outpouring of help the family have received, the frustrated father says he is still unsure if his daughter will receive a place.

“We won’t really know until next week after the registration process closes and offers have been accepted. We are hopeful she will get a place. We will have to wait and see.”

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea said he has been in touch with the Department of Education on behalf of most of the parents affected.

“The Department have assured me that most children will be offered a place soon. I have made strong representations for the affected children to be offered their first choice school, however, it’s not possible to guarantee that they will get their first choice,” he said.

Deputy O’Dea went on to describe the system being operated in Limerick as “exceptionally cruel”.

“Every school is obliged to send a rejection letter and this is devastating for the psychological wellbeing of the young people receiving these rejections, one after another. It leaves them suffering anxiety and questioning their value. We have to try and find a better system.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan called on Minister for Education Norma Foley to intervene and work with the patrons and schools locally to provide these additional places needed, whether by extensions of existing schools or otherwise.

Deputy Quinlivan said it was Government inaction which has led to this year’s school admissions problems.

“This is very distressing for the families affected. I have spoken to a number of them since they received their rejection letters. Leaving primary school can be a big stress for a child and a family, but imagine being told that there isn’t a place for you to go to,” he added.

“It is hard to comprehend the failure to plan here. The Department knows how many children in Limerick are leaving primary school, it has the data on children of that age. The Department of Education should have ensured adequate places.”