Ballyfermot boy lost school place over application being too late

By Maurice Garvey

EFFORTS are being made to secure a suitable school placement for a young Traveller boy from Ballyfermot.

National media outlets covered the case of Labre Park resident Paddy Flynn (12) earlier this week – who was not accepted into a secondary school because his application was late.

Paddy Flynn

Paddy, the only Traveller in his class, previously attended De La Salle primary school, and was hoping to attend De La Salle secondary school (St John’s).

The school said it is within their right to refuse Paddy’s application – its website states late applications may not be accepted.

A statement by St John’s to The Echo on Wednesday said: “We were not aware last June that this boy had not secured a suitable school placement for September.

"We understood that he had received a suitable place in another school which would best meet his educational needs.

“St John’s College has always welcomed pupils from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and works extremely hard to ensure that all of the necessary supports are put in place for each student prior to their arrival in our school.”

The school said pupils in De La Salle National School transfer to a variety of secondary schools with “about 50 per cent enrolling in St John’s College.”

The statement continued: “When a child’s application to a particular school in unsuccessful, parents/guardians can appeal this decision. This appeal mechanism is regulated by the Department of Education & Skills.

“In any event, as this young boy is still without a school place as the school year commences, his family will need to be supported in securing a suitable school place for him.

"It is our understanding that the family are being supported at this time by relevant personnel in Tusla (child and family agency), and every effort is being made to secure a suitable school placement which will meet his educational needs.”

The Ballyfermot Traveller Action Project could not be reached by The Echo before it went to print.

Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan said Paddy’s parents – who are illiterate – should have been engaged by the school.

“The process was not child-centered. I doubt he’ll be left out of school, but coming to school late is very disruptive for the poor child,” said Cllr Doolan.

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