Parents in 38 areas can vote from today for their preferred choice of primary school patron.
survey is designed to establish the level of demand from parents for
diversity of school patronage in each of the towns and suburbs.
present, more than 90 per cent of schools, or 3,000 of them, are under
the remit of the Catholic Church.
Parents of all children aged 12
and under can participate in the survey, which can be accessed online
via education.ie until February 8th.
The survey initiative is in
line with the recommendations of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in
the primary sector. Last year, there was controversy over the outcome
of surveys in the five towns chosen for the initial stage of the
process: Arklow, Castlebar, Tramore, Trim and Whitehall, a suburb of
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn claimed the results in
the pilot areas showed a strong demand for change.
However, Fr Michael
Drumm of the Catholic Schools Partnership said only a small percentage
of parents in some areas favour changes to school patronage. He claimed
only 25 per cent of relevant parents surveyed had responded.
Drumm said he could not understand why the Department of Education
cannot publish the exact statistic on the percentage of parents who
participated. “I think people should look at the real figures.
Arklow - those who want change are parents of 80 children in a school
population of 1,965. That is only 4 per cent.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Quinn said participation had ranged from 25 to 44 per cent, which was “disappointing”.
said there had not been enough publicity surrounding the survey, and
that it had taken place during mid-term which may have resulted in a
The period for this consultation will be extended
from three weeks to four, and an information leaflet prepared by the
Department of Education will be delivered to every house in the 38
survey areas, the Minister said.
If the latest survey backs
change, the department will ask existing patrons to come up with a plan
to transfer some schools to other patron bodies. The relevant bishops
will have a maximum of six months to indicate which schools could be
divested of their patronage.
“We need enough to show there is a
demand for a school of a different ethos to the Catholic Church, and in
the pilot survey that took place last autumn, enough parents did show
that there was a demand for such a school in the five areas,” Mr Quinn
The department hopes to begin the process of handing over Catholic-run schools to other patron bodies by September 2014.
Quinn said the survey represents a “historic opportunity for parents to
have a real say in the type of school they wish to send their children
to, be it denominational, multi-denominational, all-Irish or other”.
There are 311 primary schools in the 38 areas which will be surveyed.
bodies which have indicated they would like to become patrons of any
divested schools in the identified areas are the VECs, An Foras
Patrúnachta, Educate Together and, in a small number of areas, the
National Learning Network and the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Helpline: 1800 303621
Patrons: Areas in survey
Ballinasloe, Ballyfermot/ Chapelizod/ Palmerstown/ Cherry Orchard,
Bandon, Birr, Buncrana, Carrick-on-Suir, Carrigaline, Celbridge,
Clonmel, Cobh, Dublin 6, Dungarvan, Edenderry, Enniscorthy, Fermoy,
Kells, Killarney, Leixlip, Longford, Loughrea, Malahide, Monaghan,
Nenagh, New Ross, Passage West, Portmarnock, Roscommon, Roscrea, Rush,
Shannon, Skerries, Thurles, Tipperary, Tuam, Westport, Wicklow and