Weak response to pilot survey on parents' preferred patrons of schools


Parents have been slow to engage with a Department of Education survey on their preferred choice of patron for primary schools.

Figures released by the Department of Education indicate that less than 40 per cent of parents took part in an online survey in five pilot areas. The actual results of the surveys will not be known until next week.

These surveys are the first step in a process in which the Catholic Church could be divested of control of schools in 44 areas.

Despite the low turnout, the department insists there was “an encouraging level of interest from parents”. It says the pilot surveys will allow it to identify the level of parental demand for a wider diversity of school choice in the selected areas.

The remaining 39 areas – where there is a stable population and demand for diversity of school types – are to be surveyed next year.

The survey was confined to parents living in the area, parents of pre-school children and of children in primary school.

A code of conduct – worked out in consultation with the patron bodies – limited excessive spending by any one side. This limited the capacity of patrons to alert parents to the survey through public relations.

Number of responses five pilot areas

Arklow:384 responses, representing 706 of the 1,965 pupils in primary schools in the area.

Castlebar:465 responses, representing 932 of the 2,261 pupils in the area.

Tramore:276 responses , representing 563 of the 1,644 pupils in the area.

Trim:300 responses, representing 588 of the 1,540 pupils in the area.

Whitehall:546 responses, representing 987 of the 2,449 pupils in the area.