Video: More parents to vote on taking schools from Catholic control
PARENTS in 38 more towns and suburbs are being asked to decide whether they want to hand over a Catholic primary school to another patron.
It is part of the historic move to reduce the dominance of the church in primary education.
It follows a similar exercise late last year, when parents in five areas voted in favour of greater choice.
As a result, the Catholic Church – which controls over 90pc of the country's 3,000 primary schools – has been asked to hand over one in each of the five areas to the multi-denominational body, Educate Together, which had most support as an alternative patron.
Parents of all children up to 12 years in the 38 areas, which encompasses 311 schools, are being asked if they want change, and if so, who they would like to see operating their local primary schools.
The 38 towns and suburbs have stable populations and little prospect of any new school opening, so the only way to offer choice is to transfer the patronage of existing schools.
The bodies that have indicated a desire to take over a school in the areas are Vocational Education Committees (VECs), which have developed the Community National School model, the Irish language patron body, An Foras Patrunachta, Educate Together, and, in a small number of areas, the National Learning Network, which deals with pupils with special needs, and the Nigerian-based Redeemed Christian Church of God.
The surveys are going live today on www.education.ie, and will continue until February 8. Paper-based versions of the survey are also available on request
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said it was "an historic opportunity" for parents to have a real say in the type of school their children attend.
Kildare town has been removed from the original list of areas to be surveyed because it already has an Educate Together school and An Foras Patrunachta will establish a Gaelscoil there next September.
The Department of Education will run an information campaign on the issue.