Limerick secondary schools application system ‘not fit for purpose’

Fine Gael councillor Sarah Kiely

THE Limerick Schools Common Application System (CAS) is not fit for purpose, according to a prominent local councillor. 

Speaking during a debate on the CAS at last Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting, Fine Gael councillor Sarah Kiely called for it to be abolished and replaced.

Cllr Kiely, who is a former Cathaoirleach of the Metropolitan District, said that the system is “not fit for purpose”.

The City East representative told Council members that the Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, Paul Crone, said in correspondence to the Council that the issue of 26 children not receiving offers of a school place for September 2023 is “a matter for the Department of Education”.

“After this issue was highlighted by the Limerick Post newspaper, I got a call from Thomond College telling me that they had been instructed by the Department of Education to place all 26 children in one classroom for the coming academic year.

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“As you will recall, we as councillors predicted this and asked that it didn’t happen. So as well as ignoring the children at the centre of this fiasco, they ignored the parents and the elected representatives who are the closest to the problem before us.

“This is going on for 30 years now,” she fumed.

Cllr Kiely went onto say that one family has reached out on numerous occasions to the Educate Together school to ask for a place for their child and were eventually informed last Friday in writing that they are currently working on the number one school preference waiting list.

“So, basically, students who have already got a place in a school are being prioritised.

“This family live two minutes from the new school, they have been pushed from pillar to post and they, along with the other 25 families, have been treated appallingly with the lack of information if they are not in a position to accept Thomond College.”

Cllr Kiely said she was asked to encourage children and their parents to accept the place in Thomond College.

“My answer was I will not have any part in this charade. It does nothing to address the real issues and kicks the can down the road for next year again.”

Cathaoirleach of the Metropolitan District, Cllr Olivia O’Sullivan, took the view that Thomond College was “stepping up to the plate”.

“They must be commended for doing that,” she said.

Seconding Cllr Kiely’s motion, Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan raised psychological concerns for the 26 children left without school places, describing it as “an awful stigmatising thing”.

“Something needs to happen. We can’t have this happening again. A culture of snobbery permeates secondary education in the city,” Cllr Sheehan added.