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Ballina and Westport parents vote on primary school patronage

Ballina and Westport parents to decide on Catholic patronage

Ciara Galvin

Two areas in Mayo are included in a list of 38 towns and suburbs in which parents are being asked to decide if they want to transfer a Catholic primary school to another patron.
Parents in Ballina and Westport will be asked to decide if they want the existing patronage of the primary schools in the areas to be changed to another patron in an effort to provide diversity of school patronage.
At the moment, 90 per cent, or 3,000 primary schools around the country, are under the patronage of the Catholic Church.
Last year’s efforts to reduce the dominance of the church in primary education, saw the church being asked to hand over one school in each of the five areas to the multi denominational body, Educate Together. Educate Together had the most support for being an alternative patron. Castlebar was included in this initiative.
Parents of children up to the age of 12 in the 311 schools, in the 38 areas will be asked if they want change, and if so, who would they want operating the local primary school.
Ballina and Westport are part of the list as they are deemed to have stable populations and little chance of any new schools opening in the areas, therefore the only way of providing choice is to transfer to patronage to another body.
National reports have detailed those bodies who have showed interest in taking over a school, these include Vocational Education Committees (VECs), An Foras Patrunachta, Educate Together, and the National Learning Network. The surveys which opened yesterday (Monday) will be ongoing until February 8 next, while paper versions of the survey are available on request.

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