Monday, January 30, 2017

Educate Together challenges Minister's 'flawed' divestment plan

Image result for Educate TogetherEducate Together has today criticised the Government's plan to speed up the divestment of religious-run schools as "unfair and unworkable".

Education Minister Richard Bruton and his Department said today that they have consulted widely with the main school landowners, with different patron groups as well as a range of education stakeholders before developing the plans announced today. 

However, Educate Together said that it was not consulted on the current proposal, which it claims prioritises the wishes of the Church and the Education Training Boards rather than parents in deciding the reassignment of schools. 

"The proposed plan is not a fair or transparent one as the state agencies charged with running the selection process - the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) - also have a vested direct interest in the process in that they are patrons of Community National Schools (CNS) and have clear and stated ambitions to grow that number," said Educate Together Communications Manager Luke O’Shaughnessy.

"The proposed plan seems to be designed to facilitate the handover of religious-schools to ETB-run schools in return for payment.

"It proposes a role for existing patrons or the trusts or individuals behind them who are the original landowners in deciding which patron would take over the running of a school. 

"This gives these bodies a disproportionate influence over the process and is a denial of the fundamental democratic rights of parents."

Educate Together has proposed an alternative approach, which would involve the State contacting the parents of all three-year-old children and seeking their first second and third preference for primary school via a confidential online process.