The school’s patron, Educate Together, ratified the revised enrolment policy in March 2016. There were further amendments to the policy in 2017 and 2019. The policy can be accessed on the RETNS website at:
A number of revisions and amendments (in June 2017 and December 2017) have been ratified by the BoM, notified to the school community and incorporated in the policy. This document contains a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) together with answers. This is intended to assist parents/guardians who are considering applying to RETNS or who have already applied and wish to understand the impact of the revised enrolment policy. Please note that the answers are provided only as a helpful guide. All decisions with respect to enrolment will be taken strictly according to the policy. Parents/guardians are advised to read the policy in addition to this guide.
Parents/guardians are welcome to submit observations and suggestions that might help to improve the scope and content of our FAQs.
How do I apply for a place at RETNS?
You need to complete and submit a pre-enrolment form. This is done via the school’s website (www.retns.ie). Your application will be acknowledged automatically within 7 days. If you do not receive an automated response within 7 days, please contact the school urgently.
When should I pre-enrol my child?
Children can be pre-enrolled only on or after their 2nd birthday. RETNS does not accept and will not process applications submitted for children under the age of 2. RETNS is greatly oversubscribed and parents/guardians are advised to pre-enrol your child as soon as possible following their 2nd birthday. The earlier you enrol your child, the greater the likelihood that he or she will obtain a place.
Why can I not apply before my child’s 2nd birthday?
The requirement to be at least 2 years of age was introduced following a previous review of the RETNS enrolment policy in 2011 to reduce the significant administrative burden involved in maintaining extensive pre-enrolment lists, which have lengthened considerably in recent years, but also to provide newcomers to the area and adopted/long-term fostered children with an opportunity to apply to attend RETNS. Please note that this requirement does not affect the relative placement of children on pre-enrolment lists, since birth dates do not change from year to year.
Is there a fee for applying to RETNS?
No. Application is free of charge.
The BoM discussed whether parents/guardians should be required to pay a deposit once an offer of a place for the Junior Infants class has been accepted to discourage them from holding places they may not eventually take up. On balance, it was decided that such a fee would not ultimately deter parents/guardians from holding a place and no fee is applied.
Which school year should I apply for?
Two factors determine whether your child is eligible for a given school year. First, they must be at least 4 years of age on or before 31 March of the year of admission to Junior Infants. For example, if you are applying for entry in 2021, your child must have had their 4th birthday by 31 March 2021. Second, they must be under 6 years of age on 1 September of the year of admission.
Why does my child have to be at least 4 years of age by 31 March of the admission year?
This requirement was introduced following a previous review of the RETNS enrolment policy in 2011. The change was actively sought by parents/guardians and supported by the professional experience of the teaching staff. The policy change was designed to reduce wide age ranges in classes and to enhance the active learning and educational outcomes of all children.
What criteria are used to decide which children are offered a place in Junior Infants?
For the school year 2020 and thereafter, children who have an older sibling already attending RETNS will be placed above all those who do not, provided (a) a valid application was made within 14 days of the child’s 2nd birthday and (b) the child’s older sibling will still be attending RETNS when the child starts Junior Infants.
Please take particular note of the restrictions on the application of the sibling preference regarding how soon after the child’s second birthday he/she must be pre-enrolled and that the pre-enrolled child’s sibling must still be a pupil at RETNS. These conditions will be strictly applied.
If my child has a sibling already in the school, are they guaranteed a place?
No. Regardless of the school year for which you apply, given the demand for places at RETNS, no child is guaranteed a place. You are advised to consider alternative plans to cover the possibility that you will be unsuccessful in obtaining a place. Demographic pressures and greatly increased interest among parents/guardians in the education model provided by Educate Together mean that pre-enrolment lists for RETNS have lengthened considerably in recent years and the school is very likely to remain heavily oversubscribed for the foreseeable future.
What happens if my child has a sibling enrolled in the school when offers are made, but he or she does not secure a place and transfers to the following year’s pre-enrolment list?
Section 12 of the policy previously stated that the sibling preference would only apply where the sibling of the child starting in Junior Infants was still enrolled in the school in the year of admission.
In December 2017, the BoM clarified that “year of admission” refers to the school year of entry when a child starts Junior Infants and that their sibling must still be enrolled in the school at the time the child starts in Junior Infants, not when places are offered.
The BoM also clarified that if a sibling does not secure a place and chooses to transfer to the following year’s pre-enrolment list, this provision will still apply. In such cases, applications where the older sibling is no longer enrolled in the school in the new year of entry shall be considered as non-sibling applications.
Will my child be pushed down the enrolment list if children who have siblings already attending RETNS apply after me?
Children with siblings already attending RETNS will be placed above your child on the pre-enrolment list provided (a) they made a valid application within 14 days of the child’s 2nd birthday and (b) the child’s older sibling will still be attending RETNS when the child starts Junior Infants.
Why was the RETNS enrolment policy changed?
A review of the RETNS enrolment policy, which was always based on the traditional Educate Together model of first come, first served, began in late 2015 and was completed in March 2016. The review was undertaken by a group representing the whole school community. Designed to be democratic and inclusive, it involved a detailed and collaborative consultation process, including a survey of the views of the school community. The group made a number of recommendations in its final report, including the introduction of a sibling preference. On receiving the report, the Board of Management recognised and accepted the strong views expressed in favour of a sibling preference by the school community. It was therefore decided to provide for a sibling preference in the RETNS enrolment policy. The sibling preference contains a number of conditions which ensures there is a greater possibility that sibling(s) will gain places in the school but also ensures that newcomers to the area/first born/single children have an opportunity to apply to attend RETNS and secure places.
Most Educate Together national schools maintain a first come, first served enrolment policy. While many new ET national schools are incorporating sibling preferences, RETNS is an early adopter of such a policy among long-established Educate Together national schools.
Are long-term fostered and adopted children counted as siblings?
Is the sibling preference relevant for applications to classes above Junior Infants?
No. The sibling preference will apply to the junior infant class intake only.
Why might my child not get a place at RETNS?
RETNS is a greatly oversubscribed school which receives hundreds of applications for every school year. It is a single stream school, that is, it has only one class per year, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, this means that the large majority of children who pre-enrol for RETNS do not obtain places. You are advised to consider alternative plans to cover the possibility that you will be unsuccessful in obtaining a place.
Can I appeal if my child does not get a place at RETNS?
Yes. The option to take a Section 29 appeal to the Department of Education and Skills is available to all families who are unhappy about a decision not to enrol a child.
The steps in the appeal process and application forms are set out by the Department of Education and Skills at Appeal against Permanent Exclusion, Suspension or Refusal to Enrol
As a result of a court judgment, appeals boards cannot make any findings as to the merit or contents of a school’s enrolment policy. Appeals are considered only on the basis of whether a school implemented and adhered to its stated enrolment policy. Previous appeal boards noted the following:
“The Board of Management of Rathfarnham Educate Together National School adhered to the Enrolment Procedure as set out in its published Enrolment Policy and applied the Enrolment Criteria correctly. The Board of Management of Rathfarnham Educate Together National School allocated places strictly in date-of-application order.”
Can the class size be increased to accommodate siblings who are not initially offered a place?
No. Class sizes are determined on the basis of Department of Education and Skills guidance and will not be exceeded even if this results in some siblings not gaining places in a junior infant class. The class size for 2020-2021 school year is 27.
Is there a limit to the number of applications RETNS accepts for a given school year?
Yes. Under the revised enrolment policy, the number of applications on pre-enrolment lists for each school year is being capped at 250. This is designed to reduce the administrative burden of maintaining enrolment lists and to make sure that families who have no realistic possibility of obtaining a place are not misled.
Does where my family lives matter?
No. RETNS does not have a “catchment area” and will not take your residential location into account when offering places.
When are offers of places made for Junior Infant Classes?
Previously letters of offer were sent out “early in the second term of the year prior to that for which the child is pre-enrolled”. This was amended in 2017 to state that letters of offer would begin being issued in mid-January of the year prior to which the child is pre-enrolled. This was further amended in November 2019 to bring forward the month in which offers of places in junior infants are offered to November of the year prior to which the child is pre-enrolled. The purpose of this change was to give more certainty to parents/guardians about when they would be notified about places and if a place was available, but also for administration purpose and to reduce the likelihood of places being accepted in multiple schools while parents/guardians wait to see if a place becomes available in their preferred school.
Parents and guardians are reminded that it is their sole responsibility to inform the school promptly of any change of address, telephone number, e-mail address or other relevant circumstances. All reasonable efforts will be made to ensure that applicants have received their offers of places –
read receipts of e-mails will be deemed to have been receipt of an offer – but parents/guardians are reminded that it is their sole responsibility to ensure that their contact details are correct and up to date.
Does RETNS provide information on my child’s place on the pre-enrolment list?
There is considerable fluctuation on pre-enrolment lists so it is only possible to provide indicative numbers. This information does not guarantee that a number will remain the same or constitute a guaranteed offer of a place. The offer of places is made strictly in accordance with the enrolment policy. Information on the pre-enrolment number for your child can be provided on request to the school’s enrolment officer.
Can an applicant be on more than one pre-enrolment list?
No. Section 5 states that a pre-enrolment number will be allocated to each applicant. Based on a child’s date of birth, a small number of applicants could be on more than one junior infant class pre-enrolment list at the same time. Section 5 was amended in December 2017 to state that only one application per child shall be accepted and that if multiple applications are received (one each per junior infant class pre-enrolment list), the earlier application date shall apply.
This revision was made for administrative reasons and will have no material impact on the possibility of a child gaining a place in a Junior Infants class. For example, if a place is not available in the Junior Infants class for the year of admission initially sought, an applicant is offered the option to transfer to the following year’s list in any event where the earliest application date applies.
Can the school indicate the numbers reached on previous pre-enrolment lists?
Yes. The chart below shows the numbers on RETNS pre-enrolment lists for each year since 2011 and the number reached in each of those years, i.e. the lowest position on the list at which a child was offered a placed. The increase in demand for places at RETNS and the increased likelihood that places are accepted are both evident.
If my child is offered a place, how long do I have to decide whether to accept it?
You must respond in writing (e-mail is fine) to accept an offered place within five working days. Failure to respond within five working days will result in the place being forfeited.
This provision was amended on 17 June 2017, the change having been ratified by the BoM on 9 May 2017 and the notification issued on 17 May 2017. Applicants previously had 10 days to respond and accept or turn down an offer of a place, but this was changed to five working days. Offers are made and accepted electronically and previously if places were not accepted/turned down relatively quickly, the enrolment process was delayed as further offers could not be made until the 10 days had passed. The BoM acknowledged this constraint and agreed unanimously to alter the timeframe to five working days.
If my child is offered a place, can I defer the place to the following year?
Yes, if your child has been offered a place and you wish to defer to the following year’s junior infant class (for example, if you feel your child is too young to start school) you may do so provided your child will be under 6 years of age on 1 September of the following year.
However, deferral of a place does not guarantee a place the following year, as offers will again be made according to position on the pre-enrolment list as dictated by the enrolment policy. Your position on the pre-enrolment list will be decided according to the original date on which you pre-enrolled.
If my child is not initially offered a place, what options are open to me?
If a place is not available, the school will contact you to ask whether you wish your child to remain on the pre-enrolment list in case a place comes up and whether you wish your child to be transferred to the pre-enrolment list for the following year’s junior infant class, provided your child will be under the age of 6 on 1 September of that year. You must respond in writing (e-mail is fine) within 10 days. It is only possible to transfer to the pre-enrolment list for Junior Infants the following year, not for senior infants or other classes.
If you opt to remain on the waiting list, please note that due to fluctuation on lists and late withdrawals, it is possible that places may become available in the junior infant class at a very late stage – even up to the week before school starts. The number of such places is unpredictable, but in many previous years some parents/guardians have decided at almost the last minute not to take up a place offered earlier in the year. Any places that do come up are always offered in accordance with position on the pre-enrolment list.
Where places do become available at a very late stage, offers may be made to those next on the pre-enrolment list via a telephone call, which will be logged. Parents/guardians are asked to confirm in writing (e-mail is fine) if they do or do not wish to take the place. This is to enable the place to be offered to the next person on the list if necessary and for record keeping purposes.
What should I do if I accept a place and discover later that I do not be need it?
Please inform RETNS in writing as quickly as possible (e-mail is fine) so that we can offer the place to another child. There are lengthy waiting lists with many parents/guardians willing to accept places even at very late stages.
Is it possible to apply for a place in a class above Junior Infants?
Yes. There is a separate form on the website for applications to classes above Junior Infants. These are dealt with on a first come, first served basis as and when spaces arise.
Section 22 of the enrolment policy states that parents/guardians can defer or renew applications for places in classes other than Junior Infants and such applications must be renewed each September. The BoM clarified this section in December 2017 to indicate that mid-school entry offers are issued in the third term and that, for administrative purposes, these lists will close to new applications when successful/unsuccessful applicants have been notified. Previously, lists remained open, creating an administrative burden where applications could continue to be made in situations where no places were available.
How many times has the enrolment policy been reviewed?
The enrolment policy has undergone two major reviews in recent years.
In 2010-11, following wide ranging consultation with the school community, two changes were made to the policy regarding the earliest date on which a child could be added to the pre-enrolment list – their second birthday – and that a child must have reached age 4 on or before 31 March of the year in which he or she starts school. No other substantial changes were made and the board’s decision was unanimous. It was agreed to undertake a full review of the policy in 2015.
At the end of 2015, a very extensive review process was undertaken which involved the establishment of an enrolment policy review group comprising representatives of parents/guardians, the teaching staff and the Board of Management. A detailed survey was also undertaken and based on the review group’s discussions and the survey findings a number of recommendations were made to the Board of Management, including the introduction of a sibling preference.
Having discussed the group’s report in detail, the Board of Management decided that, on balance, RETNS should introduce such a preference and it came into effect in 2019 and will be fully in effect from 2020 onwards.
When will the enrolment policy be reviewed again?
The Board of Management will keep the enrolment policy under review annually and may make minor alterations to it – for example, to clarify ambiguity – as required. Amendments were made to Section 16 in May 2017 and came into effect in June 2017 regarding the number of days within which an offer must be accepted/turned down and also offers would begin to be made in mid-January of the year prior to which the child is pre-enrolled. This was further amended in November 2019 to bring forward the month in which offers of places in Junior Infants are offered to November of the year prior to which the child is pre-enrolled.
Further clarifications and amendments were ratified by the BoM in December 2017, notified to the school community on 18 December 2017 and came into effect in January 2018. These related to a clarification of the term “year of admission” and the application of the sibling preference in Section 12; mid-school entry lists in Section 22; and restricting applications to one list only in Section 5. The purpose of these revisions was to ensure clarity with regard to the sibling preference and for administrative reasons. Following notification to the school community in May 2019, the policy was amended in June 2019 to provide that a child with a special educational need could transfer on a temporary basis to another educational facility in Ireland for a specialised educational intervention where this was considered essential for the child’s long-term educational development.
Any significant policy changes will be notified to the school community with consultation undertaken if necessary.
Can a child transfer temporarily to another educational institution and then return to RETNS?
Yes, but only for very specific reasons – following notification to the school community in May 2019, the policy was amended in June 2019 to provide that a child with a special educational need could transfer on a temporary basis to another educational facility in Ireland for a specialised educational
intervention where this was considered essential for the child’s long-term educational development. Such a transfer requires the approval of the Principal and the Board of Management and is subject to an assessment by an educational psychologist. Given the intended temporary nature of such a
transfer, with the child having met the strict criteria involved, the child will be considered to be still enrolled in RETNS and may return to the school following the completion of the specialised intervention.
Can I make suggestions on items for inclusion in this FAQs document?
The Board of Management is always interested in the views of the school community on all aspects of the school’s operation. Given the importance of the enrolment policy and interest in this area among parents/guardians, this FAQs document will be considered a “dynamic” or “rolling” document which can be updated as required.
Date of previous amendments:
25 October 2016
17 June 2017
18 January 2018
Date of most recent amendment 13 June 2019
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