My Department has reviewed the correspondence received from the Deputy in this regard. I welcome that parents are coming together to explore how greater choice can be provided for parents of primary school children in this area.
Separately to the main Schools Reconfiguration process, the ‘early movers’ provision of the process can fast-track patronage reassignment where school communities choose to directly engage their patron and seek a transfer of patronage to a multi-denominational patron. The first 'early mover' reconfiguration has successfully taken place, with Two-Mile Community National School in Kerry opening in September 2017.
Any school which is seeking a transfer of patronage under the “early movers” provision should contact their school patron directly.
As the Deputy will be aware, Kenmare-Sneem is one of the 16 initial areas nationwide which is part of the phase 1 pilot of the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process.
The Schools Reconfiguration process is a new process aimed at increasing the number of multi- and non-denominational schools, by transferring existing schools from denominational to multi-/non-denominational patronage in line with the wishes of the school community. The initial rollout of this process is nearing completion of the Identification Phase in 16 areas. In the case of Kerry ETB, the area selected is Kenmare-Sneem.
The Identification Phase seeks to identify the level of oncoming demand for more diversity of patronage within the local educational provision, and surveys of parents of pre-school children have been carried out in these areas by the relevant City/County Childcare Committee on behalf of the ETBs. ETBs, having analysed the survey results, then draw up comprehensive reports detailing the outcomes of the surveys in relation to each of the 16 pilot areas. The response of the local Bishop to any identified oncoming demand for greater diversity of school patronage in the area is included in the report prepared by the ETB.
As it currently stands, most of the Identification Phase reports from these 16 initial areas have been finalised and it is envisaged that the reports will be published by the Department in the first half of this year on its website, www.education.ie.
Following the publication of the first round of reports, it is intended that the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process will move into the Implementation Phase, which will be led by the existing patron (the Catholic Archbishop/Bishop). In the Implementation Phase, the existing patron would identify a school to transfer to a multi-denominational or non-denominational patron (where the Identification Phase report has shown a viable level of demand for greater diversity of patronage).
The process envisages that the identification of a new multi-denominational or non-denominational patron should reflect the wishes of parents and the school community.