The Department of Education and Skills has assigned patronage of three national schools to Educate Together from September 2015. The schools are located in Tuam, Co. Galway, Castlebar, Co. Mayo and New Ross, Co. Wexford.
In 2012, parental surveys were conducted by the Department in a number of areas across the country with a view to "divesting" some denominational schools to other Patrons in order to promote more diversity in primary education in Ireland. The first of these “divested” or “re-assigned schools” opened in Dublin, Mayo, Meath and Waterford in September 2014.
Commenting on the announcement, Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe said “We are delighted to have the opportunity to open new schools in New Ross, Castlebar and Tuam, and to meet the demonstrated demand for educational diversity in the area.”
Jarlath Munnelly, Educate Together Regional Development Officer for Ireland West said: “this is a fantastic development for Educate Together. This provides further choice for the parents and goes another step on the road to providing Educate Together schools right across 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 another positive step in addressing this imbalance, but there are still large areas around Ireland where the expressed choice of parents remains to be accommodated.
There are currently 3,200 primary schools in Ireland, 2,900 of which are under Catholic patronage. Educate Together currently runs 74 primary schools nationwide, representing 2% of the schools in Ireland.
Today’s announcement is warmly welcomed by the parents that have campaigned for many years for access to Educate Together schools in their communities. Said Regina Dooley, parent and start-up group member of the New Ross Educate Together start-up group, “This is fantastic news for New Ross. Parents of the town and surrounding areas will now have a greater choice of primary education with the addition of an Educate Together Primary School.”
Regarding accommodation, it is Educate Together's intention to work closely with all stakeholders, parents, local authorities and the Department to ensure that each of these schools are permanently located in areas that will be accessible, convenient and suitable.
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.
Parents can email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on pre-enrolment and pre-enrolment forms can be filled out on the following pages: