Educate Together calls for immediate progress on national school patronage surveys 

Educate Together CEO Emer Nowlan has today called for immediate action to commence a national parents survey promised by the Government, and to ramp up the provision of Educate Together schools.

Dr Nowlan delivered her remarks at an event attended by Minister for Education Norma Foley TD, representatives of the Archdiocese of Dublin, education stakeholders and public representatives.

The event marked the transfer of patronage of Paradise Place Educate Together National School, previously St Mary’s Primary School, Dublin 7, to Educate Together patronage, the first Catholic primary school in the state to transition to Educate Together patronage. 

This historic transfer has come about as part of the Government’s ongoing plan to support the reconfiguration of schools from religious to multi-denominational patronage where demand exists for such a change. 

In her remarks, Emer highlighted the importance of such school transfers, given that education in Ireland continues to be dominated by religiously-managed schools, with over 90% of all primary schools still having Catholic patronage: 

“We want more schools around Ireland to have the opportunity to transfer patronage, as we know that there are many thousands more families around the country who also want the choice of an Educate Together school for their community. We are asking the Minister to press ahead with the planned national survey so that the voices of parents and staff seeking change can be heard.” 

Speaking about St Mary’s Primary School / Paradise Place Educate Together NS, Dr Nowlan acknowledged the significant contribution made by religious patrons to the school for more than 100 years. She commended the school for their inclusive practices, their respectful engagement with the consultation process, and their readiness to continually adapt to the changing needs of their pupils. Dr Nowlan welcomed the opportunity that this breakthrough provides for other communities around the country who are seeking change, highlighting the growing demand from families for choice in the education system. 

Successive government ministers and departmental officials have recognised the need for greater choice, and have undertaken a range of divestment and school reconfiguration initiatives over the last decade, but progress has been far too slow, with just 12 Educate Together schools being allowed to open through this process since 2012. The State has a target of 400 multi-denominational primary schools by 2030.

Speaking about the transfer, St Mary’s school principal, Éadaoin Kelly said:  

“We are pleased to be making this transition to Educate Together patronage. As a school, we embrace the rich diversity of our community. The children are at the centre of all our work, and we are responsive to their needs. Through the reconfiguration process, our school community recognised that equality-based patronage is the best fit for the diverse families we serve. We will continue our inclusive, restorative and supportive practice as an Educate Together school and look forward to sharing and learning with and from other schools in the network.” 

The successful transfer of St Mary’s Primary School to Educate Together patronage is a testament to the school community’s desire to continually adapt to their pupils’ needs, and their openness to new educational options. Today’s celebration event not only marks a historic first but also opens up pathways for future school transfers, promoting educational choice across Ireland.

School communities interested in transferring to Educate Together patronage can find more information online: