Statement On Minister Bruton’s Plan ‘To Increase Provision of Multi- and Non-denominational Schools’

Educate Together notes with interest today’s announcement that parents of pre-school children in 16 areas across the country are being surveyed to find out what kind of primary schools they want to send their children to.

Educate Together welcomes the fact that the Department of Education and Skills (DES) is working to provide more diversity within the primary school system in Ireland. There is substantial evidence of increasing demand from parents for places in Educate Together schools in many areas of the country. Educate Together is representing this parental voice and seeking the government’s full support in providing more equality-based school places.

Concerns Over ‘Reconfiguration Plan’

Educate Together notes that the areas identified in the DES press release have been identified by the local Education and Training Boards (ETBs) who are themselves also applying to run the schools. The ETBs act as patron for Community National Schools (CNS). Educate Together believes that this constitutes a clear conflict of interest which could invalidate the process.

Furthermore,the plan states that “survey results will form the basis of discussions with the most prevalent patron/landowner in the area (the Catholic Bishop in most cases) concerning the transfer of patronage of an existing school to meet that demand.” In other words, the plan, as it has been outlined today, gives Catholic Bishops the final say in which schools they transfer and what type of new school will emerge. 

Commenting on this, Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe stated:

“Educate Together has called for the initial surveys of pre-school children to be strictly independent of any existing school patron and that the surveys should immediately ask parents what ethos of school they want for their children. This then should be used by the Department to allocate the patronage of any school identified for change. This programme needs dedicated funding in the coming Budget.”

Many areas still waiting for Educate Together schools

Educate Together is very concerned that there remains sixteen areas still waiting for their ‘divested’ schools from the last process run in 2012/2013. Resources and action is required to fulfil the promises made in these areas. Families in these areas chose Educate Together as patron. The department formally accepted the results. It is surely of utmost importance that the outcomes of the previous process are adhered to before committing to more ‘reconfigured’ schools. 

The 16 towns still waiting for the Educate Together national schools:

  • Arklow
  • Ballina
  • Clonmel
  • Cobh
  • Dungarvan
  • Fermoy
  • Kells
  • Killarney
  • Leixlip
  • Loughrea
  • Nenagh
  • Palmerstown
  • Passage West
  • Shannon
  • Westport
  • Whitehall