Educate Together Encourages Parents to Grasp Historic Opportunity on Patronage

Educate Together is calling on parents to have their say on primary school patronage before it is too late. A national parental survey, currently being taken in 38 towns and areas around the country, will close on Friday, February 8th.

The online survey asks parents in areas with only denominational school options, what other school types they would like available in the future. The results will decide the patronage of around 44 schools the Catholic Church is potentially reassigning from its 3,000 primary schools nationwide.

Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe is encouraging parents to engage:

Parents need to be aware of the historic opportunity the parental survey presents. This is the first real chance parents have had to help direct the kind of primary school system they want for their children. By expressing their preference now, they give themselves and future generations a choice of school types currently only available to 3% of primary school pupils. 

Surveying parental preferences on school types was one of the recommendations of the 2012 report of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism. Online surveys were piloted in 5 areas in October 2012, the results of which all showed a strong preference for Educate Together. The remaining 38 areas proposed by the Department of Education and Skills have been surveyed over the last three weeks.

The results of the pilot surveys caused much discussion in education circles. Some Catholic commentators have claimed the survey response levels are low and indicate general satisfaction with the status quo. Educate Together contests this interpretation – Paul Rowe again:

The results of the pilot surveys showed, in all areas, a clear preference for Educate Together schools to be made available. Also the response levels, whatever the overall percentage, showed ample support to make these schools viable and sustainable. This is the key point.

Educate Together has been providing multi-denominational education in Ireland for 35 years. It has 65 primary national schools across the country and it will open its first second-level schools in 2014. Its schools, half of which are located in the greater Dublin area, are very popular and in many cases, heavily oversubscribed. 

Educate Together schools are all non-fee paying, national schools. They teach the national curriculum and instead of religion classes, a moral and ethical curriculum Learn Together” is taught. Faith formation classes are offered in all Educate Together schools outside of school hours.