3 August, 2010
Publication of detail on areas for possible divesting of catholic primary school patronage
The Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan, TD, today published the outcome of work undertaken by her Department, at the request of the Catholic Church, to identify areas that may offer potential for the church to divest its patronage of certain primary schools.
The possibility of the Catholic Church divesting itself of certain primary schools was raised by the church with the Tánaiste’s predecessor as Minister for Education and discussed at a meeting in November 2009 with senior representatives of the church.
At the request of those senior representatives, the Department undertook to identify possible areas where the demographics and existing school configuration was such that there might be potential for the Catholic Church to consider divesting patronage.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills has today made this information available on the website of her Department.
The following criteria were applied in selecting the initial locations where a change of patronage may be warranted in areas outside of the five (5) city areas of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford:
1. Areas with a population of greater than 5,000 persons and less than 20,000 persons, as per the 2006 Census;
2. Areas that did not experience greater than 20% growth in the inter-censal period 2002-2006 and where the establishment of new schools is unlikely to emerge until at least 2016;
3. Areas that have at least three primary schools within a 2km range of the CSO Town Boundary; and
4. Areas where school provision is predominantly Catholic or where there is very limited diversity of provision at present.
A total of forty-three (43) town areas satisfied these criteria and six (6) were selected at random, having regard to achieving a diocesan and geographic spread for the purposes of more detailed analysis.
The four (4) Dublin City areas are random samples of areas that have relatively stable demographics where no new schools may be warranted in the medium term.
They are also areas that have a predominance of denominational school provision.
The Catholic Church authorities may now wish to identify some areas to trial the modalities by which the number of catholic schools could be reduced and thus releasing some schools for other patrons.
The decision on the identity of the particular catholic school or schools to be trialled will ultimately rest with the Bishop, as patron, and the catholic community in the parish or parishes concerned and must follow consultation with the parent body and staff of the schools.
Should the Catholic Church identify any such schools, there will be a need to put in place a range of processes, including appropriate consultation with staff, to address the implementation issues that might arise, such as ownership of buildings and transfer of staff.
These will include the necessary arrangements to consult and decide on the future patronage of identified schools.
The report can be accessed through the link below