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Can I choose which secondary school I go to?

If you would like to change what secondary school you are attending you will have to get the permission of your parent/guardian

Written by Children's Rights Alliance and posted in life

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This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children's Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

In Ireland, you do not have the right to choose which school you attend. Your parent or guardian will usually decide which school to apply to. If your parent or guardian are choosing a school for you to attend you can let them know your opinion and talk through their decision together. Ultimately it is up to your parent/guardian where you attend, but it is good to let them know what your preference is.

Does a school have to accept me as a student?  

You have no absolute right to attend the school of your parents’ choice, this means that you may not get into your parents first preference of secondary school. The State must provide you with a school near your home that meets your parents’ or guardian’s religion or beliefs. Schools do not have to admit a child if there are no places available. Schools must follow the school’s admissions policy when allocating places.

What rules must the school follow when enrolling students? 

Each school must have an admissions policy, which is available to the public. In general, schools cannot refuse to admit you based on any of the following equality grounds:

There are some exceptions. For example, girls’ schools are entitled to admit only girls. The same applies to boys’ schools. Schools can no longer use religion as a reason to admit or not admit someone, even when they are oversubscribed. An exception to this rule is in the case of schools that provide religious instruction for minority faiths like Church of Ireland, Jewish or Muslim schools as it would be difficult for them to access a school that offered this religious teaching.

I want to change my school, what should I do? 

If you are unhappy in your current school and would like to change you should speak to your parent/guardian about it. If the reason you are unhappy is because you are experiencing bullying they may be able to speak to a teacher in your school to try and make the bullying stop. There is a lot to take into consideration when changing school, such as the location and curriculum of the new school, and it may not be possible for you to move. Speaking to a parent/guardian is your best option as you can let them know your reasons behind wanting to move and you may be able to find a solution together. 

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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Published June 17th2020
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