Survey on the ethos of schools

School patronage arrangements

Sir, – Carl O’Brien reports that parents are to be surveyed on the ethos of schools (“Parents to be surveyed about converting schools to multidenominational ethos”, News, September 30th).

What parents, I wonder, by whom and how will they be surveyed? Consultation under the increasingly socially and ethnically polarised school patronage arrangements may well mean that parents will be reluctant to cede the marginal resource advantages and social capital that they gain from their “choice” of school.

In many urban areas, parents currently can choose only between one Catholic school and another and once enrolled, children become part of a very close-knit community, often distinctive from the next nearest school only in terms of the social and ethnic mix.

Both the Government and the Catholic Church need to acknowledge the inequalities inherent in current patronage and admission practices.


Unless any survey of parents meaningfully includes the most marginalised communities, the Traveller community, those families in homelessness and parents from new ethnic communities, including international protection applicants, then I predict that the outcome of any parents survey will be at best a marginal tweaking of the status quo and will hardly achieve 400 new multidenominational schools by 2030.

In the meantime, however, the Catholic Church could make a big stride toward equality by establishing central admission systems for schools under its patronage within a 6km radius. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 24.