Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Education and Skills
50. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a progress report on the divestment programme commenced by the last Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2003/17]
Ten new primary schools have opened since 2013 under the patronage divesting process, two of which opened in September 2016.
The Government is committed to progressing the development of a dynamic and innovative education system that reflects the diversity of twenty-first Century Ireland. The Programme for a Partnership Government reflects the Government's objective of strengthening parental choice and further expanding diversity in our school system. The desire of parents for diversity in education is primarily being pursued by increasing the number of non-denominational and multi-denominational schools with a view to reaching 400 by 2030.
In addition to the phased transfer of Catholic schools to new patrons already under way, this requires considering new ideas and new approaches to substantially accelerate the changes in school provision in order to achieve greater diversity. By developing new approaches which enable engagement with the landowner, I am convinced that we can significantly increase the number of non-denominational and multi-denominational schools. I am progressing these matters as a priority and have already held a round of consultations with patron bodies in this regard. I aim to be in a position to announce these new approaches shortly.
In addition to progressing the reconfiguration of existing school provision to provide greater choice to parents in areas of stable population, the Government is committed to ensuring that parental preferences will continue to be key to patronage decisions on new schools established in areas of demographic growth.