Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Education and Skills
Question 258: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if, while reforming the education system, he will consider putting in place measures that will meet some of the demands (details supplied); and if he will engineer future reforms to facilitate the meeting of this significant demand. [8457/12]
As the Deputy will be aware the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector, which is a key objective of the Programme for a National Government 2011 - 2016, was officially launched by me in April last year. Part of the terms of reference of the Forum are to advise me on the practicality of how transfer/divesting of patronage should operate for individual primary schools in communities where it is appropriate and necessary; and how such transfer/divesting can be advanced to ensure that demands for diversity of patronage (including from an Irish language perspective) can be identified and met on a widespread basis nationally. An Advisory Group appointed to convene the Forum has held a number of meetings in public, during June and November 2011. The Group sought and received submissions from the education stakeholder groups and from the public as part of its work. The Group is currently finalising its report and I expect to receive it shortly. In addition, in June 2011, I announced that 20 new primary and 20 new post-primary schools are to be established up to 2017 across a number of locations. I also announced new arrangements for the recognition of new primary and second-level schools. The new arrangements published by my Department, provide a balanced approach to allow for applications to be made from prospective patrons for the establishment of schools. The criteria to be used in deciding on patronage of the new schools place a particular emphasis on parental demand for plurality and diversity of patronage.
Question 259: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if, in respect of the proposed new post-primary school in Maynooth, County Kildare, he can confirm if An Foras Pátrúnachta has been ruled out of consideration for patronage of same, either as a single application or as part of a joint one; if he can confirm that An Foras Pátrúnachta will not be considered for patronage either as a single application or as part of a joint one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8458/12]
As the Deputy may be aware, as part of the new arrangements for the establishment of new post-primary schools, which I announced in June 2011, I said that an initial decision would be made by my Department, before seeking applications for patronage, on whether the school would operate through the medium of Irish or English and that applications would be sought from patrons when this decision was made.
In inviting applications for the new post-primary schools to be established on 2013 and 2014 patron bodies were informed about which schools would operate through the medium of Irish. The new school to be established in Maynooth in 2014 will provide instruction through the medium of English. However, one of the requirements that must be satisfied by prospective school patrons is the confirmation of willingness to establish an Aonad where there is demand for it (for a school where the primary medium of instruction is to be English). The closing date for receipt of applications for new post-primary schools to be established in 2013 and 2014 is 24 February 2012. Full details of the new arrangements for patronage of new schools and the criteria for deciding on patronage of these new schools are available on my Department's website.