Update: Schooling in Dublin
A November dawning in Dublin.
Notes from the Field
Speaking recently with our Bennett consultant who supports families relocating to Ireland, I realized that it would perhaps be wise to offer an update on the education landscape there and, specifically, in Dublin.
As many of you undoubtedly already know, there’s considerable relocation traffic into Dublin these days, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Although efforts are underway to develop other Irish cities as destinations for incoming businesses, the bulk of relocation into Ireland is still Dublin-bound, and with that reality comes a dearth of available housing and spaces in schools.
In Dublin, international school options are limited and generally expensive, and many inbound families with younger children therefore rely on the local public system for enrollment. While public Irish education is typically a very fine option, the issue is that public schools are at capacity, with waiting lists, and it’s not easy to find a public school with space for an incoming student. According to Bennett’s consultant, “we sometimes have to call hundreds of schools in order to find a spot!” The situation is particularly dire when it comes to preschool and early years education programs, all of which have long waiting lists.
Meanwhile, the situation has been even more difficult for students with Special Education Needs who require a specialized classroom or services. In recent months, the placement process was interminable, and families found themselves waiting for months for their children’s education needs to be acceptably addressed. In July, however, the Ministry of Education activated Section 37A in order to create more SEN space and classrooms, and this has theoretically shortened the enrollment process from 18 months to six to eight weeks. We hope this will help loosen the knot.
So, what to do? There’s no easy fix, but below are a few thoughts and suggestions for companies relocating employees to Dublin:
Set expectations appropriately. For our clients who relocate employees to Dublin, it’s critical that families understand that they will need to be flexible when it comes to the housing & schooling combination. While Bennett’s typical advice is that families “first find the school, then the house,” we are revising that advice for Dublin in acknowledgement that they need to act quickly when they find an available property; and we are also finding that once a child is actually resident in a district, registration officials do feel the pressure more keenly to address school enrollment, and this helps us find an appropriate spot and push the process through. It’s also important for families to know that it does work out in the end but that they will need to stay the course and be patient.
For particular employees, paperwork is critical. This is particularly the case for families with Special Education Needs children, who should bring with them official SEN diagnosis reports. If they are without an official assessment and need to have their child assessed by the Irish system, the waiting list is long, and a child may not be appropriately placed in a specialized school or classroom until the process is completed.
Consider tuition support. It’s often the case that while families are sitting on waiting lists for a spot in a public school, private and international schools have spaces available. While the slippery slope of policy exceptions can be devilish, sometimes a particular location requires a specific approach.
Although this may sound daunting, knowing what to expect equips you and a relocating family with a mindset that can ease concern and make for a workable situation.
Meanwhile, here at Bennett we’ll do our best to keep you up to date, but don’t hesitate to be in touch if you need help.
Elizabeth Sawyer, CEO
Bennett International Education Consultancy works directly with hundreds of families each year across the globe. We support families by helping them make informed decisions about the best-fit schools for their children; with our guidance, they secure placement in preschools, private day schools, public/state schools, boarding schools, colleges & universities, including schools with particular programs, such as special needs support.