Parents opt for diversity in patronage of schools

by Gazette Reporter
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Over 750 local parents have voted for changes to the running of their schools, a recent survey on school patronage has revealed.
Parents in Malahide, Portmarnock and Rush recently named Educate Together as their first preference when it comes to seeking alternate provision of school patronage for their communities.
This is according to the results of a Primary School Patronage Survey published recently by the Department of Education and Skills. The survey was carried out in 38 towns across the country, including Malahide, Portmarnock and Rush, and was undertaken as part of the response by Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn, to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in primary schools.
The survey was aimed at establishing if parents want a more diverse range of primary school patrons in their area.
Of the total preferences to come from the Malahide survey, a total of 415 stated that they would welcome a wider choice of patronage while 268 stated that they would avail of the choice.
There were 193 first preferences for Educate Together, 31 for An Foras Patrunachta and 27 for the Vocational Education Committee (VEC), which is also proposing an English speaking multi-denominational school.
Welcoming the overall survey results Educate Together chief executive Paul Rowe said the results clearly show a demand for diversity of school types across Dublin.
“It has given parents a real opportunity to choose the type of schools they want for their children’s education,” he said.
“Educate Together is delighted that so many parents in Dublin want an Educate Together school in their community. The Forum for Patronage and Pluralism has given parents in these communities the opportunity to express preference for the schools they want.”
According to the survey results, there were a total of 757 responses to the survey in the Malahide area, with the valid responses representing 1,287 local children. The number of responses however, is considered only a “small representation” of the community, according to local Cllr Anthony Lavin (FG).
“I didn’t think there was any great significance in the demand for change, the number that responded was very small,” he said, admitting he was “surprised” by the small response.
“I thought there would be more engagement with people but it suggests that people were not too concerned about it. Maybe they are happy and content with what they already have.
“There is, from time to time, the need for extra accommodation in our schools but as regards the patronage, I wouldn’t know of any hard or fast expectations on it.”
While it was revealed that the majority of parents in Malahide would like to have an alternative option when it comes to school patronage, the survey showed a number of parents’ preference for an all-Irish language school as well. The survey analysis stated that there is currently no gaelscoil in Malahide and suggests the requirement of a regional analysis may need to be carried out to best ascertain how this demand could be met. Cllr Lavin however, believes the need is already catered for.
“There is an Irish language school nearby in Kinsealy and I know a lot of families with kids who have gone there from Malahide so there is an option there and it also caters for Malahide children.”
For further details on the survey and analysis, see www.education.ie.

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