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Only a small minority of parents participated in a pilot survey in five areas chosen by the Department of Education to determine parental preferences on primary schools patronage, the Catholic Bishops’ Council for Education has said.
Fr Michael Drumm (pictured) of the Catholic Schools Partnership estimated that at most a quarter of parents took part in the survey.
Between 37pc and 50pc of participants said they wanted a greater choice of patronage, and about a third said they would avail of new choices if they existed.
This means less than 10 percent of all parents of primary or pre-primary school children in the five areas would use a new school if given the chance.
The new model most favoured by those who wanted change was the patron body Educate Together.
The Council for Education acknowledged that the survey “accurately the views of those who participated”. However, they noted that “a large majority of parents did not take part in the survey”.
The report on the survey, published yesterday, recommended the establishment of five new Educate Together schools in the five pilot areas of Arklow, Co Wicklow; Castlebar, Co Mayo; Trim, Co Meath; Tramore, Co Waterford and Whitehall in Dublin.
The Council of Education said that the percentage of parents as whole who had expressed an opinion in favour of change amounted in each area “to between five and eight per cent of parents”.
Speaking on RTE's Drivetime yesterday, Fr Michael Drumm, chair of the Council, estimated that no more than a quarter of parents in these five areas could have responded to the survey, on the basis of the figures provided in the report.
The Council's statement said that the survey provided “significant affirmation of Catholic schools”.
“In looking to the future it is clear that a very large number of parents wish to have their children educated in Catholic schools,” it said.
Parents of pre-primary and primary school children were questioned for the online survey. They had to provide PPS numbers and other details to prove their identity and residence.
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said he would now ask the Catholic bishop in each of these areas to consider re-configuring their schools in order to free up school accommodation for the new educational provision.
Mr Quinn said the survey would be extended to other areas in January.