The Right to Education

“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and based on equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning…

“Article 24 – United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

A Legal Right to Education

The Education Act 1998

The Education Act 1998 sets out the right to education for every person in the state. Section 7 of the Act says that the Minister for Education “must ensure that there is made available to each person resident in the State….., including a person with a disability or who has other special educational needs, support services and a level and quality of education appropriate to meeting the needs and abilities of that person.”

The act emphasises inclusivity and equality of access, including provision for persons with disabilities or other special educational needs and sets out the rights of parents to send their children to a school of their choice.
For more information follow the links

Education Act 1998
Citizens Information – Special Needs Education

The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004)

The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act (2004) sets out the legal framework for the education of children with special educational needs. The EPSEN Act includes the aim that children with special educational needs should be educated, wherever possible, in an inclusive environment and that those with special educational needs should have the same rights to appropriate education as children without special educational needs. The act also provides a legal basis for the National Council for Special Education

To date, only some parts of the EPSEN Act 2004 have been put into effect by the Minister for Education and Science. Part of the act came into force on 14 July 2005 and a further five sections on 1 October 2005. The sections of the Act which have come into force deal mainly with the right to be educated in an inclusive manner, the duties of schools and the establishment of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

The sections of the act providing for an individual right to assessment, individual education plans, the designation of schools, appeals processes and co-operation between the education and health services have not yet been implemented.” – Department of Education and Skills – Inclusion of Students with Special Educational Needs – Post-Primary Guidelines. Follow the links below for information and advice

The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004)
Children with Special Educational Needs – Information Booklet for Parents April 2014

“An NCSE guide to help parents/guardians understand more about their child’s special educational needs, how these needs are assessed and the supports that are available to their child in school.”

Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 introduced reforms, which will make it easier for a child to access their local school. Section 8 – Special Classes, provides the Minister with a power to compel a school to make additional provision in respect of children with special educational needs i.e. open a special class or classes, where the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has identified a need for such provision within an area.

This measure will ensure that where there is a gap in provision for the education of children with special needs, identified by the NCSE, and no school is willing to make such provision available, the gap can be addressed effectively by the issuing of a direction by the Minister to the school. Follow the links below for information.

The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (2004)
Department of Education and Skills Press Release – Education Act 2018

A Constitutional Right to Education

In 2001, High Court ruled that every person in Ireland had a constitutional right to free appropriate primary education based on need. The judgment confirmed that this was a fundamental right which was not limited by the availability of resources. The government did not challenge the High Court decision for children 18 years and younger but successfully appealed its application to persons over 18 years of age to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided that the right to free primary education ends at age 18 and does not continue based on need.

Article 42 of the Constitution deals with education. Other articles relating to fundamental rights also have a bearing on education law. Articles 40-44 provide for the fundamental rights of Irish citizens.

Follow the links below for information
Citizens Information: Constitution and Education

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