Parents to be asked again to pick new school patron

Parents in an East Cork community are to be asked, for the second time in two years, for their preferred patron for a new primary school

Parents to be asked again to pick new school patron

The Department of Education plans to support the opening of a primary school in the Carrigtwohill area, between Cork City and Midleton, next September. It is one of seven areas in which new primary schools to open in 2015 and 2016 were announced yesterday by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan.

It had previously been proposed to establish a school last September to cater for the area’s rising population, with two prospective patrons offering themselves as an option — both offering a multi-denominational model.

But the department said that neither Educate Together or Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) had established evidence of sufficient demand for their school model to justify proceeding.

It is now planned to run a patronage determination process again shortly in the area to see if these or any other interested party has enough backing to establish the new primary school. The process usually involves patrons who wish to open a new school seeking evidence of demand for their proposal among parents of future primary pupils in the area, as the department will only support the staffing and accommodation of start-up schools if it can be sure of its long-term viability.

Those proposals are then assessed by the department before an independent New Schools Establishment Group advises the minister on how to proceed.

In 2013, the department’s forward planning section recommended the process for Carrigtwohill be run again in 2015, and that discussions take place with prospective patrons about increasing awareness and parental participation.

Educate Together confirmed yesterday it would offer itself as patron. Cork ETB will consider its position on the issue and whether to seek to be patron at a meeting later this month.

A similar recommendation was made about the process for a planned new school for Swords in Dublin in 2013, but the area was not included in yesterday’s announcement.

The Educational Society of Ireland and Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB had offered to be patron at the time.

A patronage process is also to be run soon for a new primary school proposed by the department to open in Greystones, Co Wicklow, later this year.

Also planned are new schools in Pelletstown/Ashtown in Dublin, and in Knocknacarra, in Galway city, for which Educate Together and Steiner-school group Lifeways Ireland, respectively, have already been selected as patrons.

Three more Dublin primary schools are planned to open in September 2016, in the Goatstown/Stillorgan, Cabra/Phibsborough, and Drumcondra/Marino areas, with patron bodies being invited later this year to apply to run them.

Ms O’Sullivan said parental preferences should be at the centre of considerations, which is why demand for pluarality and diversity of patronage are emphasised in the criteria to decide who opens new schools.

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