Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe, TD, has welcomed this week’s announcement that 14 new patrons are to be appointed to new post-primary schools across the State but said that the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn or his department are not responding quickly enough to the demand that exists from parents for an education choice for their children.
School patronage refers to the control and ethos of a school and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has made clear he wants to see the divestment of a number of schools under the patronage of the Catholic Church.
Deputy Crowe said;
“I welcome the announcement of 14 new patrons for post-primary schools including the decision that the multidenominational patron, Educate Together, will take responsibility for the running of a school in Blanchardstown. This is a first for Educate Together which will also share patronage of a school in Drogheda with the Co Louth Vocational Education Committee (VEC).
“Eight other schools will also be under the care of VECs in Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Meath and Cork. Gaelscoileanna body An Foras Pátrúnachta will become patron to two schools, and the Church of Ireland and Le Chéile Schools Trust will have responsibility for one school each in Greystones, Co Wicklow, and Mulhuddart, Dublin 15, respectively. All 14 of the schools will be Co-Educational.
“In welcoming this announcement I recognise the disappointment of other schools that missed out when they had their applications for patronage turned down.
“There has been a campaign to secure a multi-denominational Primary School in the Portobello area of Dublin where there is clearly a demand for a school that can meet the diverse needs of families living within that locality. Others that missed out include the Loreto Education Trust, which applied to open a school in Ashbourne, Co Meath, and the Marist Education Authority, which sought patronage in Dundalk, Co Louth.
“What this highlights is the growing demand from parents for choice in different secular/non secular education and it is clear that Minister Ruairí Quinn and the Department of Education and Skills are not responding quickly enough to the many applications that are being made.
“Similarly, the 2011 Census showed that the number of Irish speakers in Ireland has risen by 7.1%, so there is a growing demand for the opening of local Gaelscoileanna. The issue of school patronage is essential for the development of the language and is something the minister and his department need to fast track and prioritise.”