Friday 9 December 2016

Transfer of schools away from religious control on fast-track

Published 26/09/2016 | 02:30

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

The divesting of primary schools to non-denominational status is to be fast-tracked across Ireland.

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Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has demanded the accelerated rate of divesting schools from Church control after it emerged just nine schools were handed over in 2015.

The Independent TD is concerned that, at the current rate of transferring schools from Church to non-denominational control, Ireland will not achieve the target of having more than 400 multi-denominational primary schools nationwide by 2030.

More than 90pc of the 3,200 primary schools across the country are still under Church control and patronage.

Ms Zappone, pictured, said the target of 400 multi-denominational schools needs to be achieved as soon as possible.

"I agreed that figure on the basis of my negotiations (to support the Government)," she said.

"I know that Minister (Richard) Bruton is also very committed to this.

"I think his department have identified some initial targets. We are now increasing the pace and I am going to work with him as well as with other advocates to ensure that goes as quickly as possible.

"I am witnessing it (Ireland's increasing multi-cultural make-up) everywhere I go," she said.

The Dublin TD stressed that there is a need to urgently address the issue of non-denominational schools in Dublin because of the dramatic changes in ethnic make-up within some communities.

Educate Together warned that progress on handing over schools has been "unreasonably slow."

Last year, Educate Together stressed that its assessment indicated the urgent need for a network of a minimum of 300 Educate Together schools across Ireland.

That amounts to just 10pc of the primary school network.

Of nine schools divested in 2015, eight went to Educate Together.

Irish Independent

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