Educate Together has today criticised the Government's plan to speed up the divestment of religious-run schools as "unfair and unworkable".
Minister Richard Bruton and his Department said today that they have
consulted widely with the main school landowners, with different patron
groups as well as a range of education stakeholders before developing
the plans announced today.
Educate Together said that it was not consulted on the current
proposal, which it claims prioritises the wishes of the Church and the
Education Training Boards rather than parents in deciding the
reassignment of schools.
"The proposed plan is not a fair
or transparent one as the state agencies charged with running the
selection process - the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) - also have
a vested direct interest in the process in that they are patrons of
Community National Schools (CNS) and have clear and stated ambitions to
grow that number," said Educate Together Communications Manager Luke
"The proposed plan seems to be designed to
facilitate the handover of religious-schools to ETB-run schools in
return for payment.
"It proposes a role for existing
patrons or the trusts or individuals behind them who are the original
landowners in deciding which patron would take over the running of a
"This gives these bodies a disproportionate
influence over the process and is a denial of the fundamental democratic
rights of parents."
Educate Together has proposed an
alternative approach, which would involve the State contacting the
parents of all three-year-old children and seeking their first second
and third preference for primary school via a confidential online