Information on the Online Patronage Preference System

The Department of Education uses what is known as an Online Patronage Preference System (OPPS) to decide who the patron of new schools in Ireland will be. Essentially this means that the Department decides what areas need new schools, then draws up a catchment area for the school and surveys parents within the catchment area as to their preferred school patron.

Many parents have contacted Educate Together through email, social media and at our public meetings seeking answers about some aspects of the OPPS. We’ve compiled some of these queries and hope that these provide some clarity on a range of issues.

You will find more information on the secondary school processes on the Department’s website here.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Who can vote in the patronage processes? 

Parents of children / young people living in the catchment area can vote. To vote you will need your child’s PPS number and your Eircode. The catchment area maps are defined by the Department.

Will the new school contain an ASD Unit?

Educate Together schools welcome applications from students with additional educational needs .

New schools will typically contain ASD units once they move into their permanent accommodation. The presence of ASD units is not dependent on patronage but is decided by the Department of Education and Skills.

Is religion taught in Educate Together schools? 

There is no faith formation / instruction in any religion during the school day. Pupils are free to be themselves. They are exposed to different beliefs and perspectives in a respectful way that encourages critical thinking. This affirms each child’s identity and encourages children to see diversity and different worldviews in a positive light.

Who will build the new school?

The Department of Education and Skills is responsible for the site acquisition, planning permission and building of all new school buildings, regardless of patron. Schools that opened in the last few years have all opened in temporary accommodation.

Who hires and pays staff?

Staffing allocation is based on enrolment to the school and is decided upon by the DES, not the patron. All teaching staff are paid by the Department.

Why do Educate Together schools not have a uniform?

Students don’t wear uniforms. Educate Together school communities opt for agreed dress codes instead of uniforms. The dress code is developed by parents, teachers and students together, promoting safety and equality at school. This learner-centred approach empowers the individuality of the students while respecting their identities. 

Why do Educate Together’s allow teachers to be called by their first names?

Respect is at the core of pupil teacher relationships. Teachers make a special effort to teach children to question the world around them and to express their own opinions. Students, staff and parents are addressed by their first names. Learn more about Educate Together’s unique Learn Together curriculum here