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Help - No place offered for secondary school because deemed too young

  • 04-12-2022 6:33pm
    Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    There are 2 secondary schools in the town we live in - an all girls school and a mixed school. We applied for both schools as per the admission policy in Oct last. The all girls school would be her preferance as we live literally across the road from it, all her friends are going there etc. In November we found out that she wasnt offered a place in either school and that she was placed over 100 ( I wont say exact number as I dont want to be identified) on a waiting list for each which was very bad news. My daughter was devastated as all her friends were offered a place in the girls school - out of 11 girls in her class she is the only one that didnt receive an offer. It appears that when a school is oversubscribed kids born after the 31st of December 2010 can be excluded. My daughter was born on the 3rd January 2011. It appears that it is allowable to discriminate on the basis of age. The law was and still is that a child can start primary school between aged 4 and 6 - I started my daughter in primary school when she was 4 and 8 months - nobody flagged that this would be a problem for her getting into secondary school. Because of where she is on the waiting list I think it is really unlikely she will be offered a place in either school. My husband and I thought the solution would be for her to repeat 6ths class - I approached her school and was told it is not an option to keep her back - principle said this is not done anymore.

    We asked to remain on the waiting list for each for a place in the 2nd round offers. I also appealed the decision in writing. The 2nd round places were being offered during last week by phone call - we didnt receive a call so I contacted both schools on friday and was told someone would call me back. Neither schools called me back so I fully expect to receive more ' unsuccessful' letters tomorrow or this week.

    I contacted the Dept of education to ask what happens if my child if offered no secondary school place and cant repeat 6th class. I was told the dept of education would find a place for her at the nearest secondary school with a vacancy - this is likely to be outside the town we live in.

    My daughter is so upset with the situation and we dont know what to do. She is so worried that she will be made to go school god knows where and no nobody - she is so anxious about this. We feel very alone in all of this and noone from primary school, secondary schools etc is offering us any hope. Im sure we are not alone in this so Im asking those have been through this:

    • Surely it is wrong that a child can start school at 4 years and 8 months or less but then be deemed to young to go to secondary ( in oversubscribed schools). Surely the law should be changed that a child cant start school at 4.
    • Those of you with kids refused in prior years what did you do - what was the outcome for your child?
    • Can schools be compelled to create extra spaces
    • What is the process after 2nd round offer in secondary schools

    I appreciate any help and guidance on this.



  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Does anyone have any advice for me? I really thought others may have gone through this too. 😥

    Thanks for reading anyway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,721 ✭✭✭ randomname2005

    Awful situation.

    I didn't think you could discriminate based on age though? As long as the age falls in the range it seems a strange way to order/restrict.

    I hope you get a solution soon

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,737 ✭✭✭ 3DataModem

    Wow. I've never heard of that as a basis for cutoff, and my kids were both born in early January and just started secondary school.

    I don't have a solution, other than I really feel for you.

    I can only suggest a visit to the school that offered all 10 applicants in her class a place except her... have a chat with the head, show you are engaged with the process, and suggest that it will be better for the friends to be kept together for the sake of 72 hours.

  • Registered Users Posts: 920 ✭✭✭ Baybay

    I too have little to offer in terms of experience although I suppose with teacher shortages over subscription may become more of a thing & cut offs will likely become a feature more parents will become familiar with.

    That said, your issue is more immediate.

    The only thing I can think to do is to consider a third & fourth school where your daughter would consider going & you’d be happy for her to go too. Contact them, explain & hopefully one at least will have room for your daughter. At least then she’ll have an idea of where she might be in September & a little pressure will be off for her.

    Keep in regular contact with your existing schools of choice. Although she may be far down the list, things do change for other families too & there will be movement, especially nearer the start time & in the first few weeks of the start term. Perhaps not ideal but the schools will know you have an ongoing interest should places arise.

    A school in our locality is constantly over subscribed but every year some children on the list do get in before term starts, in the first few weeks & in one case in January. Some places also may become available in second & subsequent years which for you may be less than ideal, I know.

  • Registered Users Posts: 499 ✭✭ Sesame

    Or could she go to another school for a repeat 6th class? I have heard of people doing that before.

    It means changing schools twice but very good practice for making new friends and maturing.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Thank you for your reply. Ive copied below from the admission policy of the girls school. Its shocked me that they can exclude kids born after a certain date even though the kids started primary school at the required age.

    Admission of Students to x school shall only refuse to admit a student in the following circumstances:

    ● The school is oversubscribed (Please see section 6 below for further details)

    ● A parent of a student, when required by the principal in accordance with section 23(4) of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, fails to confirm in writing that the code of behaviour of the school is acceptable to him or her and that he or she shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance with such code by the student

     ● The application is made on behalf of a boy. X school provides education exclusively for girls.  

    The student will not have reached her twelfth birthday before the 1st of January that falls during her first academic year in the school. (Department of Education and Skills’ regulation).

  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Thank you for your reply. The problem is there is no other schools in the town to apply for - I have contacted schools in the next nearest town and put late apllications in for them too - so shes on a waiting list there too but will be bottom of the list. There is no public transport to the other town ( we live in a country town )and Im not aware of a school bus service from our town to next town. Both me and my husband work so if she has to go to school in another town one of us may very well have to give our job - its about a half hour drive to get there. She is a quiet girl and is distraught about having to go to a school where she knows nobody!

    I so stressed with this and it seems there is nowhere that offers us any support or guidance.

  • Registered Users Posts: 294 ✭✭ coffeyt

    Maybe I'm reading that wrong but to me that suggests she needs to be 12 by the 1st January in the first school year of secondary, going by the age you listed I'm assuming she will turn 12 during the January of 6th class which means she is within the age limits?

    E.g. If she is starting in September 2023 she needs to be 12 before January 2024? That's how I read it anyway?

  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Yeah we may have to look at another primary school. The principle was adamant though that repeating 6th is not an option anywhere other than in special cirumstances where a child has missed most of the year etc. I have no idea if this is true or not. I will approach other primary schools to see.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Thats what I intially thought too before I applied, that she was within the age limits. I was told by school though that shes out of the age range and was put on waiting list because of this - basically older kids are given preference when oversubscribed and kids born after Jan 1st go on waiting list. Its baffling!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 294 ✭✭ coffeyt

    I think you need to push back on the school but nicely as you don't want to alienate yourself or your daughter, going by those department guidelines she is within the age limits, it specifies the January of the academic year.

    Maybe the school have put their own age limit on it whereby you must be 13 before 31st December, but I would get them to clarify as your daughter is well within the age limit as per department guidelines.

    But unless they have that limit specified somewhere I can't see how they can enforce it.

    edit to add: surely location should be a higher priority when it comes to allocation of places, that's the route I would go with them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭ bazwraf

    It's a nasty situation that you're in, and unfortunately, I can't offer any solutions, but I do understand the age limits.

    If you have 5 spots available, and 10 children apply. If 5 are 12 now, and 5 are 11, it makes sense to offer the spots to the 12year olds. It is a lot easier for the 11year olds to repeat 6 class, and start secondary school a year later, than those who are 12 already.

    I'm sorry, I know that's no benefit to you, and it is a crappy situation, but I do see logic behind the schools/department of educations decision.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    The student will not have reached her twelfth birthday before the 1st of January that falls during her first academic year in the school. (Department of Education and Skills’ regulation).

    My understanding of it now is - If the school is deeming the first acadamic year as starting in Sept 2023 than the child needs to be 12 before the 1st January 2023. My daughter is not 12 until the 3rd January 2023.

    It just seems very unfair - Surely the cut off should be 30th June or so. It seems very discriminatory given that kids are allowed start school at age 4. It means I should have started by daughter in school at 5 years old and 8months - which some would deem old to start school. But I wouldnt have this problem now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 294 ✭✭ coffeyt

    But she won't be 11 starting she will be 12 going on 13 which means if she repeats 6th class she will be 13 starting secondary and turning 14 within 4 months of starting.

    If anything as she is within the correct age limits as per department I would assume that the catchment should be a higher prioity. If someone is living and attending school in a town surely she should be given priority for a place in secondary in that same town.

  • Registered Users Posts: 294 ✭✭ coffeyt

    But it says the January that falls DURING the academic year. The academic year runs from September to June so for September 2023 start, the January that falls during the academic year would be January 2024?

    Edit: maybe I'm wrong but if I was that parent I would contact the department of education, not the school, to clarify that rule.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Thank you for your reply. I can understand that they prefer to give older kids the places but my argument is then why are parents allowed send their kids to school at age 4 when its a huge disadvantage to them getting into secondary school.

    Im facing a brickwall at the moment in being allowed let her repeat 6th class - Im told this isnt an option.

    Do the dept of education just expect younger kids to go to the less popular schools way out of their way. Is my child not deserving of the same opportunities as other children?

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,135 ✭✭✭✭ 28064212

    Something isn't right here. The section of the policy you've highlighted:

    The student will not have reached her twelfth birthday before the 1st of January that falls during her first academic year in the school. (Department of Education and Skills’ regulation).

    covers students that will not be accepted under any circumstances. Doesn't matter whether the year is oversubscribed or not, the policy is stating that any child that won't be 12 by 1/1/2024 will not be admitted in Sept 2023.

    The oversubscription policy is elsewhere in the document (section 6). Can you post that section?

    Also, are you absolutely certain that the school has the correct date of birth on record for your daughter? This could be simply be an issue with a typo

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  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Thank you coffeyt - This is exactly what I assumed but it seems the school is basing it as 2023. I will be arguing this point should she not receive a 2nd round offer and our appeal is unsuccessful.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,361 ✭✭✭ micks_address

    ive seen where there's more kids than places in primary school they usually use ages as a criteria for entry. i didnt think it would be used for secondary school though.. usually there are other factors like if the primary school is a 'feeder' school for the secondary, if there are siblings already in the school etc. its a tough one though - can totally understand the frustration and anxiety its causing. The challenge though are the other 100? kids before you child on the list? seems mad that there would be 100 on a wait list in the first place.. if they removed the age criteria would you place in front of the other 100?

  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Ive checked and the school have the correct DOB and are telling me she needs to be 12 before the 1 Jan 2023 - I like you read the admission policy to mean 1 Jan 2024. I will copy over the oversubsrciption policy later today as I have to head out to meetings now.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 20 LBUR02

    Im 100% sure she would have been offered a place if she was born before the 31st December - all the other girls in her class were offered places but they turn 12 before 31st December. Is so frustrating!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭ ChippingSodbury

    Well, I don't think it can be a Dept of Education & Skills regulation: my child is younger than yours by a few months i.e. will still be 11 on 01-Jan-2023 and they have been accepted to secondary school in our area: if it was a regulation, our secondary school would be in breach as there are younger kids in my child's 6th class and they have also been accepted.

    The school needs to have a documented admissions policy to ensure there is no discrimination. However, if it is based on a regulation that is being misinterpreted, it may not be valid. On the other hand, as a poster pointed out above, if the school is oversubscribed, there has to be some system to sort out who gets a place and who doesn't.

    On the repeating 6th class, I know of another family who had a similar situation where they wanted to get their child to repeat 6th class but the school would not accept their child because I think the school would not receive the capitation grant for the child in these circumstances (I stress: I think that was the case!)

    My advice would be to talk to a teacher you know who works in the school (if you know one) to see what they think and how best to approach it but definitely try and engage with the school and explain your circumstances. Failing that, talk to your local TD and see if they can be of any help.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,642 ✭✭✭ DBK1

    It’s a horrible situation to be in and I really feel for you and your daughter.

    I’d be approaching the principal and having a conversation in person with them first. Explain how upset your daughter is and how this is effecting her now and you dread to think how it will effect her next September.

    This is the type of thing that can lead to depression with kids and I’d be making that point to the principal. It would be different if there were a few girls from her primary school in the same situation and they might be able to stick together to repeat 6th class or travel to a secondary school outside your local area. When she’s the only one out of 11 I’d be pleading to the principals compassionate side first and try that. There’s so much talk nowadays about mental health and depression etc. from all angles that it seems unbelievable 1 child from a group of 11 can be put into that scenario. It might not be the politically correct thing to do but I’d definitely be playing the mental health/depression card.

    If that doesn’t work I’d second what @coffeyt said and try that approach then.

    I feel for you and your daughter and I hope a workable solution is found for you. Best of luck with it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 465 ✭✭ TheWonderLlama

    Th is page is useful for setting out the position and how to go about appealing.

    From what you have said, the schools have already breached their obligations. Might be time to threaten to go legal. Watch the deadline for filing appeals though, they re tight.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,850 ✭✭✭ KaneToad

    The school is over subscribed. They have a stated admissions policy. They are following this policy. They are behaving as fairly as possible.

    I don't think that putting pressure on the school is going to yield any results.

    It's not an ideal situation, to put it mildly. But it's not catastrophic either.

    The child should be central in all thinking now. Acknowledge the disappointment but act positively towards the solution(s); repeating 6th class (in situ or in a diff primary school), attending a different secondary school, a yr of homeschooling (?)..

    If the child is led to believe that the only solution is to attend the oversubscribed school in Sept then the level of anxiety/disappointment can be elevated.

    By all means the parents should hold out hope that the child may get into the school but I don't think this should be projected onto the child.

    Not a nice situation to be in OP, I hope you get a workable solution.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,135 ✭✭✭✭ 28064212

    Then something definitely isn't right. Aside from anything else, you wouldn't have a position on the waiting list at all if it was due to the "twelfth birthday" rule. If they were applying that rule to your situation, the application should have been outright refused, the same as if the application was for a boy.

    If the oversubscription policy section doesn't mention age of child, and they're using age to prioritise applicants, then they have completely screwed up. Unfortunately, you're probably going to have to push this pretty hard - no-one likes admitting when they've made a mistake, and will often double-down.

    You need to kick off the appeals process immediately. As @TheWonderLlama stated, the deadlines in the process are tight. Make sure to follow the process as outlined in the admissions policy: if you make a mistake, and they can reject your appeal on a technicality, there's every chance they will

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭ bazwraf

    Sorry if I got the ages wrong. Add a year to everyone, and you're in the same situation.

    I'm not trying to belittle the situation by the way. It absolutely sucks, but what happens to all those kids who are older? They could be in the exact same situation as the child in question. All local children, who have friends going to the secondary school. All things being equal, the school cannot cater for every child, and needs some system to make decisions.

    If the school is over subscribed by 100 students, the problem lies with the school capacity, and general planning, not the school admission policy. If there was capacity available, then the secondary school would have no problem taking children who started primary school at 4

    I can imagine a whole lot of parents and children are very upset and worried at the moment. Nearly all of them will be contacting the school directly, to see if anything can be done. The schools cannot start making exemptions for individual children. How is that fair either?

    If it was me, I'd go on record contacting the school, asking for an exemption (but wouldn't expect any help)

    I'd also contact my local councilor/td, and see if they could do anything

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,135 ✭✭✭✭ 28064212


    The school is over subscribed. They have a stated admissions policy. They are following this policy.

    They're not following policy though. At least, not the section that has been quoted so far. The child in question will have had their 12th birthday before the 1st of January that falls during her first academic year in the school.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 920 ✭✭✭ Baybay

    @28064212 afaik Irish schools academic years run from the September of one year to the following June meaning the OP’s daughter unfortunately falls outside the compliance period.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,135 ✭✭✭✭ 28064212

    The academic year in question runs from September 2023 to June 2024. According to the policy, January 1st is referring to 1/1/2024 - the OPs daughter will have been 12 for a long, long time before that

    And (again), that part of the policy covers situations where they will refuse a place (same as if they received an application for a boy). It does not say they can use age to order applicants in the event of an over-subscription.

    It's possible the section governing oversubscription policy does have an age criteria in place, but it is not the rule from the section that is posted so far

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