Educate Together notes with some surprise today’s announcement by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) that five new primary schools being established from 2020-2022 are to be designated Irish-medium schools.
In 2018, the Department of Education and Skills announced that it would open new schools and invited patrons to apply to run them. Educate Together subsequently stated its intention to apply for new national schools in all the areas (www.educatetogether.ie/campaigns/primary2020/). Five of these areas are, as of today, to be earmarked for Irish-medium education.
In announcing the news, Minister McHugh stated: “This will provide more choice for parents and children and it will give them better certainty about the availability of Irish-medium education for their children.”
Up until now, parents had the option to indicate their preferences for the language of instruction of newly opening schools under the Department’s ‘schools patronage process’. Indeed, since the instigation of this Government programme a number of years ago, the Department placed the concept of real community engagement and the need for evidence of parental demand at the heart of any decisions made.
Arguably, today’s development could significantly alter the schools patronage process and provide less choice for parents in these areas as they will now no longer have the option to choose the language of instruction for their school. In effect the parental choice has been curtailed in five communities as announced today.
The growth in the Educate Together school network continues to be driven by parental demand throughout the State and we support the rights of families to access the education they want for their children.