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Primary school students photo via Shutterstock

Survey begins asking parents who should run primary schools

Ruairí Quinn said the survey is a historic opportunity to parents say whether schools should be denominational, multi-denominational, all-Irish or something else.

A HUGE ONLINE survey by the Department of Education will today begin asking parents who should run primary schools in their area.

The survey on school patronage is directed at parents of children aged between 0 and 12 years in 38 towns across Ireland and follows on from a pilot survey conducted in five towns late last year.

“This is an 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,” said Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn.

Currently around 96 per cent of primary schools are run by a church, with almost all – approximately 3,000 schools, 90 per cent of the total number – falling under the remit of the Catholic Church. The survey is being carried out to see whether parents want to see more options in who provides education for children in Ireland.

The 38 towns have been chosen as places where there is little alternative in the type of schools available for primary school children, and includes Ballina, Cobh, Dublin 6, Longford, Malahide, Roscommon, Thurles, Westport and Wicklow. Ruairí Quinn explained:

In the 38 towns and suburbs where the surveys are taking place, there is little prospect of any new schools opening as the population remains stable and there is enough capacity within existing schools.
However, if parents demonstrate through this survey that they want a greater choice of primary school then we will work with existing patrons to transfer patronage to ensure they can send their children to a school which best reflects their own ethos and beliefs.

The survey is part of a Government response to a report by an expert group on school patronage which recommended that schools should be transferred out of church patronage – rather than building new schools – in areas where parents wanted greater diversity in the types of schools available.

VECs, Educate Together and An Foras Patrúnachta are among the groups which have indicated they would like to become patrons of any schools divested of their current patronage.

Parents and guardians of children in the 38 towns have until 8 February to complete the survey on A PPS number will be required in order to complete the survey but the Department has said the details will be used solely for verification purposes.

Read: Parents asked who they want to educate their children >

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