Bishops have six months to respond to survey on parental demand

23 areas show demand for ‘immediate change’ in school patronage

Of 38 survey areas selected according to demographic criteria, 23  demonstrated demand for “immediate change in the existing school patronage”, the Department of Education said. Photograph: AbsolutVision

Of 38 survey areas selected according to demographic criteria, 23 demonstrated demand for “immediate change in the existing school patronage”, the Department of Education said. Photograph: AbsolutVision

Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 08:12

Catholic bishops in 23 areas across the State have six months to provide detailed proposals on how they plan on divesting primary schools of their patronage.

The move comes on the publication of a survey on parental preferences for primary school patronage published today by the Department of Education.

Out of 38 survey areas selected according to specific demographic criteria, 23 have demonstrated demand for “an immediate change in the existing school patronage”, according to a Department of Education statement. Among the 23 were Dublin 6, Malahide, Palmerstown, Portmarnock, Rush, Tuam, Westport, Ballina, Clonmel, Passage West, Dungarvan, Fermoy, Kells, Killarney, Leixlip, Loughrea, Cobh, Nenagh, New Ross, Shannon, Celbridge and Carrigaline.

One area, Birr in Co Offaly, showed sufficient demand for a Gaelscoil. Several others specified VEC patronage as their preferred option.

There was insufficient demand in areas such as Wicklow, Skerries, Carrick-on-Suir and Roscommon, among others.

The level of demand required to support change was set at the minimum enrolment required for a four-teacher school, somewhere between 80 and 100 pupils. A total of 10,715 valid survey responses were received.The majority of parents who took part in the survey named Educate Together as their preferred patron.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said: “We cannot ignore this call for change”. Fr Michael Drumm, chairperson of the Catholic Schools Partnership, said the figures needed closer analysis.