Question to the Minister for Education and Science:
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the method of surveying local communities on the issue of patronage of schools; the way the surveys were conducted; the persons eligible to participate; the way invitations were issued and the level of engagement to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the opinions expressed in the surveys on school patronage will conclusively direct his policy or if the results will be used to inform further discussions on patronage pending further engagement with local communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. -Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 29th January, 2013.
Reference Number: 3816/13, 3817/13
Minister Ruairí Quinn:
I propose to take questions 299 and 300 together.This survey initiative follows on from the recommendations of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector. Pilot surveys on primary school patronage were conducted late last year in five areas: Arklow, Castlebar, Tramore, Trim and Whitehall (including Kilmore West & Beaumont). A report on the pilot surveys is available on my Department’s website.
The surveys are being conducted mainly through an online facility while paper survey forms are also available for parents in the areas concerned. The current surveys commenced on January 14th and will run to February 8th and during this time a free phone help line is available. The surveys are open to parents or guardians of all children aged 0 to 12 years old in those areas.
Information leaflets have been circulated to all primary schools in the relevant areas and also to pre-school organisations. A comprehensive
information campaign is being undertaken in each of the areas including a leaflet drop to every household giving details of the surveys, and there is advertising on local radio and newspapers to raise parental awareness of the surveys.
A detailed analysis of parental preferences submitted to the surveys will be conducted after the closing date. The survey process is being overseen by the independent New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). The Department will publish detailed reports on the survey outcomes. These reports will be sent to Catholic patrons for their response in consultation with each local community.