A New School Choice for your Community
Full Survey Report Recommends 25 New Educate Together Schools
The results of the Primary School Patronage Survey, conducted in January, have been published by the Department of Education and Skills. 38 towns were surveyed and 20 of the 23 recommended for alternate patron provision expressed a preference for Educate Together schools. Five further areas surveyed in December last year all chose Educate Together.
Welcoming the survey results Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe (@PaulRoweET) said:
"Educate Together is delighted that so many parents across the country want an Educate Together school in their community. The Forum for Patronage and Pluralism has given parents in these communities the opportunity to express preference for the schools they want. We are honoured that so many communities have put their trust in Educate Together and our educational ethos.”
The publication of the survey results marks the end of the first phase of the Forum for Patronage and Pluralism in Primary Education. 43 areas have been surveyed in total and of these recommendations have been made for 25 Educate Together schools; 2 Community National Schools (VEC) and one Gaelscoil. The committee overseeing the surveys does not consider that the remaining 15 areas currently show sufficient demand for a change of patron.
Paul Rowe again:
"Today’s results are significant as they clearly show demand for diversity of school type exists across the country. Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn is to be commended for the Forum initiative. It has given parents a real opportunity to choose the type of schools they want for their children's education."
"The goodwill shown by the Catholic patrons to the Forum’s process is also to be recognised. The survey results show that, in addition to the interest in diversity, many parents are very happy with the Catholic National Schools in their communities.”
The report states that 15 areas are not recommended for change, as they do not currently exhibit viable demand for a new patron. It also recognises that this may change in the future at which time the position could be re-examined.
Commenting on these areas Paul Rowe said:
“In the areas where not enough parents have opted for Educate Together to make a school viable – there is a commitment to revisit these figures in the future. Educate Together is committed to supporting the rights of these families to access the education they want for their children.”
There are currently 3,200 primary schools in Ireland, 2,900 of which are under Catholic patronage. Educate Together, established in 1978 to provide multi-denominational schools, has 65 primary schools nationwide. In addition to being multi-denominational, Educate Together schools are co-educational and are open to all children regardless of their social, cultural or religious backgrounds.
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The next step (as of April 2013) is for the Bishops in each area identified to come back to the Department of Education with proposals. They have six months to do that, so the earliest a school could be open would be in 2014. Timeframes are likely to differ from area to area, but the Catholic Church has indicated that new schools could be in place in some places by September 2014.
The surveys are designed to get a picture of parental interest in providing greater diversity of schools in these areas. It is not a plebiscite on schools. Educate Together welcomes the fact that this is the first time people in these locations have been asked for their opinions on schools in their locality.
The Department of Education & Skills chose these towns, as a representation of larger towns across Ireland where there was currently little diversity of school types. The Department has decided to survey 44 areas, as part of the first phase in this project. This is just a starting point.
No, Educate Together will not be taking over schools. The survey results will inform discussions between Catholic patrons and the Department. If there is an option to divest a school in this area, other patrons such as Educate Together will be invited to take part in this process. Educate Together is not interested in taking schools off people where there is no desire for change. However, it is important to point out that a significant minority of people in many towns across Ireland currently do not have the option of an Educate Together school to attend. It is important that their views are heard and accommodated just as much as the majority view. This process will hopefully identify where changes can be made, that are acceptable to all.
Educate Together proposes to work closely with schools under Catholic patronage and the Department of Education and Skills to find the best solutions for all in each case. Of course teachers will be consulted in this. In some instances the teachers will wait in the school, in other cases teachers may be facilitated in transferring into another school. No teachers will loose their job because of divestment.
No, not at all. Educate Together schools are multi denominational, embracing all religions and none. Interestingly, 50% of students in Educate Together schools are Catholic (according to a recent report from the ESRI. Many Educate Together schools offer faith formation classes to their Catholic pupils, and liaise with local parishes for sacramental preparation.
The report states that 15 areas are not recommended for change, as they do not currently exhibit viable demand for a new patron. It also recognises that this may change in the future at which time the position could be re-examined. In the areas where not enough parents have opted for Educate Together to make a school viable – there is a commitment to revisit these figures in the future. Educate Together is committed to supporting the rights of these families to access the education they want for their children.
Educate Together is not interested in forcing so called ‘stand alone schools’ to become more diverse. The best solution to providing more diversity in Irish schools is by having a greater diversity of schools - more Educate Together schools. If there was an Educate Together National School in every town in Ireland, parents in almost every part of the country would have a choice of school within a reasonable drive of their homes.