The Education Department has sought to ease tensions in a Dublin suburb where parents are at odds over a proposal to make one of three Catholic primary schools multi-denominational.
t has reassured parents that any change in the status of a local primary school in Raheny would only be done with the approval of the community.
“No decisions about a school’s future will be made without proper consultation,” said a letter from the team overseeing the process of reconfiguring schools for diversity.
It states: “If the local church does not wish to change the patronage, the patronage of the school remains in place.”
The letter was issued against the background of meetings with parents in Raheny organized as part of the redesign initiative consultation process.
It urged those involved in the process to be “open and respectful”.
It was sent to the principals of the three schools in response to correspondence from parents who felt the decision to withdraw one from Catholic patronage was being forced upon the community.
With 89% of primary schools under the control of the Catholic Church, the government is working to provide more diversity in school types to reflect changing society.
The main potential to create more choice lies in the sale of some of the 2,800 Catholic elementary schools, provided a local settlement can be reached.
The focus of the redesign process is on cities and neighborhoods that currently have little or no non-denominational offering.
The Department of Education is running a pilot program in parts of Dublin and elsewhere across the country where a potential need for diversity has been identified, in collaboration with the relevant Catholic bishops.
Raheny is one of those areas, with the three schools – Scoil Áine for girls only, Scoil Assaim for boys only and Naíscoil Íde for co-educational toddlers – taking the spotlight.
The Raheny meetings were organized by one of several independent facilitators appointed to help school communities make a decision.
The letter to school leaders states that a facilitator’s primary function is to explain the reconfiguration process to school staff and parents.
It adds: “All views are important and we encourage everyone involved to engage with the moderator in an open and respectful manner.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/parents-told-school-status-changes-will-be-agreed-by-mutual-consent-42206693.html Parents said school status changes ‘will be agreed by mutual consent’