The Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the primary education sector published its report this week with recommendations which include registering the preference of parents in a number of towns including Tuam and Ballinasloe.
The report recommended that up to 50 schools located throughout the country be divested and that these schools will be chosen from some 250 schools in four Dublin areas, and 43 towns, including Tuam and Ballinasloe. As part of this process parents with pre-school children in these 47 areas will be approached and consulted on their opinions regarding religious patronage.
The report noted that while 96 per cent of education provision at primary level is denominational arising from the historical development of Irish primary education, there is a clearly increased demand for new forms of multi-denominational and non-denominational schooling, as well as increased demand for Irish language schooling.
The report recommends achieving diversity of patronage by using the existing stock of schools in areas where the population is stable. Where there is a cluster of denominational schools but also parental demand for alternative school patronage, the report recommends that transfer of patronage be achieved with the assistance of the Department and in a phased basis, through the adoption of a catchment approach and taking into account the preferences of parents.
Welcoming the report Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn said: "We live in a changed and changing nation. There is a general acceptance that a greater diversity of primary schooling is necessary... The key issue is how best to promote and develop this diversity. The Advisory Group report will assist us in this complex area.”
“Parental choice should be our main concern. Over recent decades, Irish society has been undergoing major political, social, economic, cultural, demographic and educational change. Primary school provision needs to reflect this changed society and provide for increased diversity."