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Changing school patronage

December 19, 2012

Sir, – The extremely low participation in the survey on school patronage is not surprising. Every effort was made to keep this survey as low key as possible.

The online survey received very little coverage in the media and information on the Department of Education website presented so many different options and possibilities that it would seem that the vast majority of parents just decided that the best thing to do would be nothing at all. As predicted only those who are fanatical about change voted.

According to your article, (“School Patronage survey queried”, Home News, December 14th) just 4 per cent (parents of 80 children out of a school population of 1,965 in Arklow) voted for change. The Department of Education is releasing only the figures for those who have voted for change and not the exact statistics on the percentage of parents who participated. Mini ster for Education Ruairí Quinn has said results in the five pilot areas show a “strong demand for change”.

Yet Fr Michael Drumm of the Catholic Schools Partnership says, “Those who expressed an opinion in favour of change amount in each of the five areas to less than 10 per cent of parents”.

Who is right; and is the department going to act on the whim of such a small minority? May I remind Mr Quinn that when only 35 per cent of the electorate voted on the Nice treaty in 2001 we were told that we would have to vote again. Even when 53 per cent voted on the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 we were told that because we did not understand the issues we would have to vote again.

We pride ourselves on our democracy, but to impose the biggest change in primary education since the setting up of the national schools on the basis of such a slender minority vote would be dictatorial and not democratic.

– Yours, etc,

Roselawn Road, Castleknock, Dublin 15.