Community National Schools are a growing model of primary education in Ireland. Community National Schools open in new communities through one of two process: patronage competitions for new schools in areas of demographic growth or the transfer of existing schools from other patrons to ETBs. Read more about how new Community National Schools are established, or how an existing school reconfigures to the CNS model, below.

The Department of Education and Skills decide where and when new schools are needed in areas of demographic growth. Parents who are eligible to vote are then asked to vote for the type of school they would like the new school to be through a Patronage Competition Process.

The process involves awareness raising, information sharing and parental expression of preference through an Online Patronage Process system (OPPS). Patronage Competitions are overseen by the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG) in the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and are open to all patrons to participate, including ETBs who are the patrons of Community National Schools.

ETBs are currently engaged in campaigns to win patronage competitions for primary schools. ETBs hope to win patronage competitions to establish Community National Schools in the following areas in September 2021.  

Please see the map below for information on patronage competitions in which ETBs are currently campaigning. Select the pin for more information on the individual competitions

What is reconfiguration? 

Reconfiguration involves the transfer of school patronage from one patron to another. This process is part of the Government’s plan to achieve 400 Community National Schools in Ireland by 2030. Recognising that the opening of new schools in areas of demographic growth could account for only a fraction of this number, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) commenced the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process in May 2018 to support the transfer of denominational schools to multi-denominational patronage. For more information on this process, visit the DES website here.  

Why is there a need for reconfiguration?  

Recent census data has shown that Irish society is becoming increasingly diverse. With a primary school system that is predominately denominational, the need to grow the multi-denominational sector is apparent. Through the reconfiguration of denominational schools to multi-denominational patronage, greater diversity of school choice becomes available to families living in established communities where a demand for multi-denominational education exists, but the opening of a new school is not viable. Reconfiguration also ensures a greater spread of multi-denominational schools across the country.   

What does reconfiguration to a Community National School involve?  

Reconfiguration to CNS is a transformative process which involves both cultural and systematic changes to school life. Through the process, schools transform their existing denominational ethos to a multi-denominational one. Changes to school governance procedures also occur. Reconfiguration to a Community National School requires time, professional development and meaningful engagement from the school community, but is directly supported by the patron, the local Education and Training Board (ETB), and Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI). Go to the About CNSs tab above for more information on ETB Ethos and Governance Supports for Community National Schools. 

What is an ETB and what are the benefits to having them as patron?  

ETBs are statutory authorities with responsibility for Community National Schools, over 270 post-primary schools, and a wide range of adult and further education training centres and services. They have developed an excellent reputation for their provision of inclusive, innovative, high quality education that meets the needs of the entire community. 

Having ETBs as patrons is significant for Community National Schools, as ETB schools benefit greatly from a broad range of supports and services that are not available to other schools. ETBs provide governance, educational, administrative, financial, Human Resources and Information Technology (IT) supports to schools. This has a direct impact on the children and families attending these schools, as it allows school leadership to focus on their primary task of leading teaching and learning. This ensures the highest standard of excellence in our schools. ETBs can also provide a valuable service to the parents of children attending CNSs through their adult education programmes. 

What do teachers from reconfigured schools say about the process?  

The CNS model encompasses community spirit and togetherness  

We are a community national school and our community has many diverse and wonderful cultures that need to be acknowledged and celebrated!  

We teach and demonstrate equality, expression of faith, diversity, justice, critical thinking, tolerance and acceptance everyday. We prepare the children to live harmoniously in a diverse society. 

I think that it is the reason many parents have chosen to send their children to a community national school as every school covers the same academic curriculum however the community national school offers very unique values and ethos. I also think the ethos of the school creates an excellent learning environment for children and ensures they get the best possible outcome from school, not just academically 

Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is at the heart of our schools  

Our school focuses a lot on GMGY and makes a huge effort to celebrate different events/festivals and traditions during the school year. We have a display board at the front of the school which shows projects completed in related to various religions, beliefs and traditions. All parents and visitors to the school can see this. We also have our intercultural day each year and classes spend at least a month beforehand learning about a country and preparing to sing and perform in relation to the chosen country. GMGY is very central to our values and ethos. 

Where can I find out more information about reconfiguration to the Community National School model 

As Education and Training Boards (ETBs) expand the growth of the Community National Schools across the country, other primary schools have become more aware of the model and are interested in exploring it with a view to possibly engaging in reconfiguration now or in the future.  

For more information on reconfiguration to the CNS model, please download the “Becoming a CNS” pack below. If your school/community is interested in reconfiguration, please contact your local Education and Training Board (link to contact details for ETBs).