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Patronage FAQs

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  • What is the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism?

    In March 2011, the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn established an Advisory Group of the Forum of Pluralism and Patronage. It examined the issue of patronage in the development of the Irish Primary School system.

    The Advisory Group conducted a number of meetings in public and sought submissions from main stakeholder groups and the public as part of its work. It also sought the views of pupils at primary and post primary level.

    The report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector was published on 10th April 2012.

  • What was the outcome of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism report?

    1. In areas of stable population where there is an absence of diversity of Patronage, and there is parental demand for alternative school patronage, patrons would provide the Department of Education and Skills with options for divesting an existing school to meet that demand. The Department of Education and Skills would then decide on the patronage of the divested school.

    2. For communities served by one ‘Stand Alone’ school, where transfer of patronage is not an option, the report makes recommendations aimed at ensuring such schools are as inclusive as possible and accommodate pupils of various beliefs. These matters will be the subject of a consultation process (separate from the divesting issues) which will be initiated by the DES in the near future.

    3. Irish medium schools should consider piloting the concept of a ‘satellite’ school which would be linked to a well-established 'parent' Irish medium school.

  • How many areas were selected for possible divesting?
    In total 47 areas were selected for possible divesting based on 2006 census data - 43 towns and 4 areas in Dublin. However, this was reduced to 44 areas when the updated census data from 2011 became available.
  • Why were these particular areas selected?

    These areas were selected based on the following criteria:

    - They had a population of greater than 5,000 but less than 20,000 as per the 2011 census

    - Areas that did not experience greater than 20% growth between 2006-2011 and where establishment of new schools is unlikely to emerge until at least 2016

    - Areas that have at least three primary schools within a 2km range of the CSO town boundary

    - Areas where school provision is predominantly Catholic or where there is very limited diversity of provision at present

  • How can I find out if my area has been selected?
    You can check online by clicking here.
  • What happens next?

    The Advisory Group recommended a three stage process to establish demand for alternative patronage, and make decisions in relation to this:

    - Surveying of  parents in relation to establish demand for alternative patronage in their area;

    - Reporting by the DES on the demand for alternative patronage;

    - A response to the Reports by the relevant patrons to this report within a definite timeframe, to be followed by a decision by the Minister on the options provided by the patrons.

  • When will these surveys take place?

    Pilot Phase

    Initially five pilot areas will be surveyed beginning on the 22nd of October 2012. The five pilot areas are Arklow, Castlebar, Whitehall including (Kilmore West and Beaumont), Trim and Tramore. Surveys must be completed by the 9th of November 2012.

    Main Phase

    The remaining 39 areas will be surveyed at a future date depending on the outcome of the pilot.

  • What is the process of the survey?

    The process involves asking all the parents and guardians of primary going children and pre-school children in these areas to indicate what type of school they would like their children to attend. This is in order to identify the level of demand from parents and guardians for choice of school type in areas where that choice is currently limited.

    Parents will be invited to take part in an online survey which is available on the Department of Education and Skills website. The survey contains links to explanations on what patronage means and information on each of the possible alternative forms of patronage. Safeguards are included in the survey to ensure that only the parents of school-going or pre-school children in the relevant area will be able to respond through data matching.

    A note on data protection issues has been prepared by the DES and is available here.

  • Are teachers in schools in these areas to be surveyed?
    It is not envisaged that teachers in the pilot areas will be surveyed at this point in time, unless they are parents of school-going or pre-school children. This survey is intended to indicate the level of parental demand for a particular school type. However, it is envisaged that later stages of the process would involve consultation by the patrons with the wider school communities, including teachers.
  • How will parents be notified of the surveys?
    Parents will be notified through a media campaign as well as an information letter that will be sent to all schools in the five areas, asking them to bring the surveys to the attention of parents. The Department of Education and Skills is also publishing an information leaflet on diversity of patronage which can be downloaded at