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Poll indicates three-quarters of parents want change in primary school patronage

April 30, 2012

A NEW POLL commissioned by the Irish Primary Principals Network has shown that three out of four parents would send their children to schools run by patrons other than Churches if they had a choice.

The poll was conducted by RedC before Easter among 729 respondents aged between 18 and 54. Forty-five per cent of respondents were parents with children under 16, while the rest had no dependent children.

While 27 per cent of parents with dependent children would choose to send their children to a school owned and managed by a school, and providing its own religious instruction, 30 per cent of those with dependents would rather a VEC-managed school which provides for religious instruction throughout the day.

Twenty-four per cent of parents would choose a multi-denominational school, which caters for religious instruction outside of the school day, and 20 per cent of those with dependents would send their children to a state-run school without any form of patronage with religious instruction provided for outside of the school day.

The poll is the first of its kind since the publication of the report of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism.

Earlier this month education minister Ruairí Quinn welcomed the report, which showed that while 96 per cent of education provision at primary level is denominational arising from the historical development of Irish primary education, there is clearly increased demand for new forms of multi-denominational and non-denominational schooling, as well as increased demand for Irish language schooling.

Meanwhile Minister Quinn has said that the multi-denominational Educate Together will be confirmed as patrons to a second-level school next month. The minister has praised the organisation for its contribution to Irish education as an agent for change and innovation.

The Minister is due to receive recommendations from the expert group on patronage for second level schools scheduled to be opened in the next three years. Educate Together has applied to open second level schools in Drogheda, Greystones, Tyrellstown/Mulhuddart, Blanchardstown and Lusk.