The board of management of one primary school in Westport town has expressed its outrage at virtual exclusion from the current national survey of primary schools. Holy Trinity School is referred to by the unrecognisable title of “WESTPORT 2 NS, Newtown” causing confusion to parents completing the survey. Parents cannot even identify the school by “Newport Road” – instead of a road name, the address is given as “Newtown”.
“We are extremely unhappy at this situation,” explained Julian Ellison, chairman of the board of management, Holy Trinity Primary School. “The use of this archaic title in the survey is causing unnecessary uncertainty and causing parents to complete the survey inaccurately.”
The aim of the survey is to establish the level of demand from parents for diversity of school patronage in each of the towns and suburbs. At present, more than 90 per cent, or 3,000 schools, are under the remit of the Catholic Church. Among the areas included in this new survey are Ballina, Westport, Roscommon, Tuam, Ballinasloe, and Loughrea. Castlebar was part of a pilot survey carried out at an earlier date.
“Our Church of Ireland school is 30 per cent Protestant, 20 per cent Catholic and 50 per cent non-denominational,” Mr Ellison explained. “We've got real experience of pluralism to contribute to the debate, but first we weren't invited to make a submission to the department last year as others were, then these forms were not sent to all our parents, because quite a few live some distance from Westport, and finally when parents did get the forms, the name of our school isn't even on them. We prefer to think it is a case of blunder rather than conspiracy, but the problem is that the consequences could be really serious for our future.”
Holy Trinity National School has more than 60 pupils who come from a wide variety of multi-denominational and multi-cultural backgrounds. It can truly describe itself as an inclusive primary school which already demonstrates the attitude which this survey aims to establish around the country. “It would be a travesty if this unique school was excluded and sidelined through no fault of its own,” Mr Ellison concluded.