The Programme for Government commits to increasing the number of multi-/non-denominational schools to 400 such schools by 2030. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has developed the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process, the Identification Phase of which is currently underway in 16 initial areas nationwide, to help to deliver on this commitment through transferring existing schools from denominational to multi-/non-denominational patronage, in line with the choices of local parents and school communities.
This process, which involves the transfer of live schools as opposed to the amalgamation and closure model of the patronage divesting process, is aimed at significantly increasing patron diversity.
While the Schools Reconfiguration process structures are being progressed, my Department is continuing to work to progress delivery of diversity in areas already identified as part of the 2012 and 2013 surveys under the patronage divesting process.
In addition to the process outlined above, the “early movers” provision of the Schools Reconfiguration process enables school communities which have already decided to seek a transfer of patronage (independent of the Identification Phase process) to request their existing patron to apply to the Minister for a direct transfer of patronage under section 8 of the Education Act.
I would encourage any school community which is seeking a transfer of patronage under the “Early Movers” provision to contact their school patron directly in the first instance.
My Department has not received correspondence from the school Patron in relation to divesting the school to which the Deputy refers.