Only a quarter of parents with dependent children would opt to send them to a Church-run primary school, a poll has found.
Some 27% of parents would choose a primary school owned and managed by the Church, compared with the remainder, who would opt for a Vocational Education Committee (VEC) school, multi-denominational or State-run.
The survey, commissioned by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) and carried out by RedC, also found that while only a quarter would choose a Church-run school, the majority of respondents still want religion taught during the school day.
“While there appears to be a public appetite for choice in the models of school patronage available, with most people opting for models that are not based on the ethos of a Church, there is still strong demand for religious instruction to be taught within the school day,” said IPPN president Gerry Murphy.
Despite this, he said the overriding objective of the survey is to ensure the highest standards of teaching are available to all children regardless of their background.
The IPPN-RedC poll saw a random sample of 729 adults questioned – including those with no dependent children – during March this year.
Among those surveyed who have dependent children (under 16 years), 30% said they would send them to a VEC school, which is run by the State.
A quarter (24%) would opt for a multi-denominational school such as Educate Together, and 20% would choose a State-run school.
While most would not have their children educated by the church, 67% said they would still want their child to receive religious instruction during the school day.
They would also like their children to get help with preparation for the sacraments, such as first confession, first communion and confirmation.
Some 31% of parents would rather their children receive religious education outside of school.
Of that figure, the majority (60%) said the responsibility to educate their children on religion should fall to the parents, 26% believed it should be the clergy’s responsibility and 13% teachers’.
IPPN director Sean Cottrell described the survey as a snapshot of the preferences of broad Irish society.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn launched the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism last week, which was set up to consult on the primary system to ensure the patronage of schools reflect the diversity of the population.
The idea is to ensure schools are inclusive of all pupils, regardless of their background or religion.
The Minister will consider a report compiled by an independent advisory group within the forum.