Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (253)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

253. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for change in relation to school patronage for primary schools and secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22760/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Three primary schools are expected to open this September under the primary school patronage divesting process, with Educate Together as patron. While permanent buildings are not yet available for these schools, I have given the go-ahead for them in temporary start-up accommodation in order to meet parental demand for greater choice of primary schools as soon as possible. The transfer of a Church of Ireland school to Educate Together patronage for this coming September is also under discussion. This follows the agreement of the Church of Ireland Bishop and local parents to a change of patronage.

A school building for a fifth school will be in use from September by an Educate Together school. This school opened in temporary accommodation last year pending the availability of its permanent building. Discussions are continuing to take place with the main Catholic patrons in these and in a number of other areas to identify and secure permanent accommodation for the schools in question and to enable further primary school start-ups in 2015 and beyond. In relation to new primary and post-primary schools being established to meet demographic needs, both the process and the criteria for establishing these were announced by me in June 2011 and full details are available on my Department's website.

Prospective patrons are invited by my Department to run these new schools. The criteria used in deciding on patronage places a particular emphasis on parental demand for plurality and diversity of patronage. Prospective patrons are, therefore, asked to provide evidence of parental demand for their particular model of provision with their applications. The patronage determination process for these schools is overseen by the New Schools Establishment Group which was set up to advise me on the patronage of new schools following its consideration of a report prepared by the Department on applications received.