Offaly parents to be asked if they want to remove Catholic patronage from schools
The Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) is to carry out a piliot survey to find out what parents feel about the religious patronage of schools as part of the Government's plan to reconfigure who runs Irish schools.
LOETB, in its role as the local statutory education authority for Laois and Offaly, was charged by the Department of Education and Skills with the responsibility of identifying an area in which to conduct a survey seeking the views of pre-school parents on the choice of school patronage available to them.
Joe Cunningham is the Chief Executive of LOETB chose an Offaly commuter town to start with but it is likely more areas in the two counties could follow suit.
“After careful consideration, LOETB has identified Edenderry as the initial area in which to roll out this survey. The purpose of the survey is to seek the views of pre-school parents in this area as to whether the current choice of school patronage available to them in Edenderry is satisfactory.
"We hope that the outcome of the survey will provide a good sense of what the community wants for their children in terms of school patronage. To ensure this, it is very important that parents of pre-school children in Edenderry engage fully with the process. I would like to acknowledge the significant role Offaly County Childcare Committee is playing in the distribution and collection of the surveys. Once they have verified the surveys, they will be returned to the ETB for analysis,” he said.
If the results of the survey indicate a demand for more choice of school patronage in Edenderry, the results will be sent to the patron of the majority of the schools in the area which is the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.
The patron will be asked to respond to the results, indicating what, if any, resolutions to the issues contained therein they can offer. A report detailing the results of the process will then be sent to the Department of Education and Skills which will subsequently publish the report on their website.
Although this survey is initially being carried out in Edenderry, the Department will presently be asking LOETB to identify other areas for consideration in Laois and Offaly.
‘Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity Process’ was announced in January 2017. Minister for Education Richard Bruton has set a target of having 400 multidenominational or non-denominational primary schools in Ireland by 2030.
He hopes that many of these schools will come about through this process whereby schools currently under the patronage of a religious group will reconfigure to become a multidenominational or a non-denominational school.
LOETB is patron to nine secondary schools. These include, Portlaoise College, St Fergal's, Rathdowney, Dun Masc College and Clonaslee College.