Catholic ethos in only one of nine new schools

Ruairí Quinn’s department says parental demand played ‘central role in decision-making’

Only one of nine new post-primary schools announced by the Department of Education and Skills this morning will have a patronage applying a Roman Catholic ethos. All others will be overseen by multidenominational patrons.

The nine new schools will be opened in 2015 and 2016, and will provide spaces for 7,300 students in areas of Cork, Cavan, Dublin and north Wicklow, the department said.

Five will be large schools catering for more than 1,000 students.

'Diversity of ethos'
Parental demand played a central role in the decision-making on the patronage of each school, with perspective patronages asked to provide evidence of parental wishes, the department said.

“The fact that the new patrons include those of multidenominational and those of a Catholic ethos clearly demonstrates that the department and I are committed to providing diversity of ethos in our schools and respecting the demands of parents,” Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn said in a statement.

Four of the new schools will be under the patronage of Educate Together, two will be run by the local Education and Training Boards (ETB) which replaced the former VECs, one by the Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST), one jointly by the local ETB and Educate Together and the final school will be managed by the local ETB with the involvement of the Catholic Bishop of Cloyne.

The Edmund Rice Schools Trust school in Cork south suburbs/Carrigaline is the only one to have a patronage that is exclusively Catholic.

The Minister introduced an advisory body in 2011, the New Schools Establishment Group, to advise him on what patronage to apply to new schools. The schools themselves arise because of a Government commitment in that year to build 20 new post-primary schools by 2017 in response to increasing student numbers.

“I am confident that these new schools, alongside the existing schools in each area, will mean that parents and students have real choice when it comes to deciding which school most reflects their own ethos,” Mr Quinn said.

The process, through the New Schools Establishment Group, ensured an “objective and transparent process”, he added.

The Educate Together schools are in Balbriggan, Co Dublin; Ballinteer/Stepaside, Co Dublin; Cork south suburbs/Carrigaline, Cork; and north Wicklow. The ETB schools are Kingscourt, Co Cavan; and Kingswood, Tallaght, Dublin. The Edmund Rice Schools Trust will be patrons of a new school also in Cork south suburbs/Carrigaline.

Bishop of Cloyne
The joint Educate Together and ETB school is in Celbridge, Co Kildare (subject to confirmation of sufficient parental support) and a new school in Midleton/Carrigtohill, Co Cork, will be managed by the local ETB, with the involvement of the Catholic Bishop of Cloyne.

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former Science Editor.