Full text of the act available here.
Section 8 Patron of a school.
There is nothing in this section relating to admissions policies.
Section 15 Functions of a Board
- It shall be the duty of a board to manage the school on behalf of the patron and for the benefit of the students and their parents and to provide or cause to be provided an appropriate education for each student at the school for which that board has responsibility.
- A board shall perform the functions conferred on it and on a school by this Act and in carrying out its functions the board shall –
(a) do so in accordance with the policies determined by the Minister from time to time,
(b) uphold, and be accountable to the patron for so upholding, the characteristic spirit of the school as determined by the cultural, educational, moral, religious, social, linguistic and spiritual values and traditions which inform and are characteristic of the objectives and conduct of the school, and at all times act in accordance with any Act of the Oireachtas or instrument made thereunder, deed, charter, articles of management or other such instrument relating to the establishment or operation of the school,
(c) consult with and keep the patron informed of decisions and proposals of the board,
(d) publish, in such manner as the board with the agreement of the patron considers appropriate, the policy of the school concerning admission to and participation in the school, including the policy of the school relating to the expulsion and suspension of students and admission to and participation by students with disabilities or who have other special educational needs, and ensure that as regards that policy principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents’ choice are respected and such directions as may be made from time to time by the Minister, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school and the constitutional rights of all persons concerned, are complied with,
(e) have regard to the principles and requirements of a democratic society and have respect and promote respect for the diversity of values, beliefs, traditions, languages and ways of life in society,………………..
- The “Catholics First” admissions policies in National Schools is illegal under the 1998 Education Act because the Patron is dictating the Admissions policies, which is the sole responsibility of the Board of Management, and not of the Patron.
- The only role allowed for the Patron with regard to admissions policy is in the manner of the publication of such policy – the Patron must agree the manner of publication with the Board of Management. The patron is subverting the provisions of the Act by dictating the actual admissions policy to the Board of Management.
- The Board of Management of any National Schools which has a “Catholics First” admissions policy, or any admissions policy which allows for religious discrimination on entry, is acting illegally. All National Schools have a traditional position of allowing children of all religions equality of access.
- Section 15, 2(e) is ignored completely in any National Schools with a “Catholics First” admissions policy.
- The Board of Management is to manage the school for the benefit of the students and their parents. There is no provison to manage the school for the benefit of the Patron.
- A “Catholics First” admissions policy in a National School, dictated by the Patron, is not allowed under the 1998 Education Act.