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IVEA Comment on Results of Parental Surveys on Primary Patronage

02/04/2013

The Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA) has given a qualified welcome to the publication by the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., of the results of primary school patronage surveys from 38 towns across the country. IVEA General Secretary Michael Moriarty said today:

It is a welcome development that parents of primary school children will be offered a greater choice in the type of schooling available to them in their area. IVEA is pleased with the announcement that there are some new Community National Schools, operated under the auspices of VECs, among the proposed new schools announced.

However, IVEA has already expressed serious concerns to officials in the Department of Education and Skills, not about the parent surveys themselves, but about the regulations concerning the surveys.

As it is newest school model available to parents, the patrons of Community National Schools (CNS) need to be allowed to promote and advertise their merits, and parents need to be made aware of the CNS as a possible suitable choice. This is not possible with the advertising and promotion restrictions imposed on VECs by the Department of Education and Skills. Insisting on a “level playing field” in these circumstances seems to favour those patronage models which have built a profile over some years. The views of IVEA in this regard have fallen on deaf ears, and the CNS school model remains in need of much greater promotion through public awareness campaigns.

While the survey is a clear indicator of the way parents are thinking, there are other factors which must also be considered, such as the preferences of the parents in any schools identified for divestment.

IVEA looks forward to reviewing the administration and outcomes of this parental survey with officials of the Department of Education and Skills.

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