Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Department of Education and Skills
Four new multi-denominational primary schools are to open in September 2015 under the patronage divestment process. Three of these schools will operate under the patronage of Educate Together. The fourth school will be a Gaelscoil operating under the patronage of An Foras Patrúnachta. This development will bring to nine the number of new schools opened under the patronage divesting process to date.
Discussions are continuing to take place with the main Catholic patrons to make further progress for 2016 and beyond.
A follow-up paper to the Forum Report entitled 'Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector: Progress to Date and Future Directions' was published on 1 July 2014. The paper gives an update on the progress made to date on implementing the Forum's recommendations on new schools, divesting of patronage, enrolment legislation and the development of programmes on Education about Religion and Beliefs and Ethics. The paper also outlines good practice and options for promoting diversity in schools.
Following publication of this paper, officials in my Department have continued to engage with stakeholders on these matters. In this context, I welcome the recent publication by the Catholic Schools Partnership of guidelines on good practice on inclusion in primary schools. The Department is continuing to progress the Forum's recommendations, including the patronage divestment process. The work to date and future directions were summarised in the paper published in July and, in light of this, I have no proposals to publish a White Paper.