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Parents set to vote on who runs schools

PARENTS in Dublin suburbs will be some of the first in the country to vote on who they want to run their local school.

The historic education move is aimed at reducing the Catholic Church's dominance in primary education.

It will ultimately see a handover of some of the 9pc of the schools the Church currently controls to other patron bodies.

The Church itself agrees that greater choice is needed to reflect recent cultural and ethical changes and will divest schools to other patrons in line with parents' demands.

It is not possible to say how many of the 3,000 Catholic primary schools will be handed over, but Education Minister Ruairi Quinn wants to name the first batch by June next.

From today, the Department of Education is to survey five towns and areas about the person they would most like to see running their primary schools.

Parents of young children in Arklow, Co Wicklow; Castlebar, Co Mayo; Tramore, Co Waterford; Trim, Co Meath and Whitehall in Dublin will be surveyed to see what kind of school they want.


The five areas are the first in 44 initial areas where the Department has identified a potential demand for greater diversity because of limited choice and no plans to open a new school.

Parents in the remaining 39 areas will vote in November.

In an advert in the Herald today, the Department says the minister has launched the survey in Whitehall/Kilmore West/Beaumont areas of Dublin "to identity the level of demand from parents/guardians for a wider choice of school type within the locality".

Parents will initially be asked if they want a wider choice of school patrons and will then be asked to vote in order of preference for the alternative patrons who have expressed an interest in running schools.

They will also be asked if they prefer single sex or co-educational schools and if they would prefer an Irish-speaking or English-speaking school.

The minister described it as "a historic opportunity" for parents to reshape the primary school landscape for generations to come and urged all those eligible to make sure that their voices were heard.