Educate Together has welcomed the announcement of the first areas in Ireland where schools will be established as a result of the school patronage divestment process.
The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD, today confirmed three areas where Educate Together schools are being established in 2014. These are Malahide/Portmarnock, Co. Dublin; Tramore, Co. Waterford; and Trim, Co. Meath. Parents will have the opportunity to send their children to these new schools from September 2014.
The transfer of a Church of Ireland school in Ballina, Co. Mayo to Educate Together is also under discussion. This follows the agreement of the Church of Ireland Bishop and local parents to a change of patronage.
This is the next step in the ongoing school patronage divestment process, which seeks to provide choice for parents. This process saw parental surveys carried out throughout Ireland in 2012 and 2013. As a result, the Department recommended changes of school management to Educate Together in 25 areas around the country.
Currently in Ireland, over 95% of schools are under Catholic Church or Church of Ireland management, and all stakeholders have been involved in discussing ways of addressing the dominance of denominational provision for some time. Today’s announcement represents a first step in addressing this imbalance, but there are still large areas around Ireland where the expressed choice of parents remains to be accommodated.
Responding to today’s announcement, Paul Rowe, CEO of Educate Together said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to open these schools. They will meet the demand from parents in Malahide/Portmarnock, Tramore and Trim for real educational choice in their communities."
Paul continued, “This is a really positive development. This is not just for the parents seeking Educate Together schools in these areas. It will complement existing provision and, in each case, it will be a real benefit for the whole community."
Declan Power, Chairperson of the Tramore Parents’ Group, also commented, “We are delighted with the news that an Educate Together school is to open in Tramore this year. We’ve been campaigning for this since 2009 and on behalf of the local parent group I would like to thank everyone who has offered their support”.
Today’s announcement is a result of a process led by the Minister, the Department and denominational school patrons. Paul Rowe again, “It is important that the generosity and goodwill shown by the Church authorities in these areas is recognised and supported. This has created real momentum in the process of divestment and is a credit to all the stakeholders involved”.
In Malahide/Portmarnock, Tramore, and Trim preparations are already underway. School Managers have been appointed to work with the local communities to ensure the smooth opening of these new Educate Together schools.
Discussions on the remaining areas where schools are to be divested are ongoing between the relevant patrons and the Department. Educate Together is happy to assist in the process in any way it can, and looks forward to more announcements of Educate Together schools to follow.
There are currently 3,200 primary schools in Ireland, 2,900 of which are under Catholic patronage. Educate Together runs 74 primary schools nationwide, representing 2% of the schools in Ireland.
For more information on each area, or to express your interest in each school, visit these web pages:
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