Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has called upon the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, to remove restrictions on student intake at new Educate Together primary schools.

Deputy Shortall said:

“Parents who had expected that their children would be enrolling in five schools run by the multi-denominational patron have been devastated to learn that they have been told by the Department to reduce their intake by half.

“These schools were set up as part of the Department’s much trumpeted divestment process aimed at introducing long-overdue diversity to our national school system. The Department’s assertion that these schools must now curb their pupil intake in order to preserve a balance among all schools in an area simply does not wash.

“Parents rightly view this as an attempt to maintain a status quo that sees our education system heavily dominated by religious patrons. The Department must honour the commitments made in the school divestment programme and allow these schools to expand to meet the needs of parents who increasingly want an alternative to religious education.”

Ronan Moore, the Social Democrats’ representative for Trim, Co Meath, where one of the affected Educate Together schools is located, added:

“I pre-enrolled my two children in the local Educate Together School because I want them to be educated with children of other faiths and none. The decision to restrict the pupil intake means that my children now have a less than 1-in-3 chance of being able to attend a school that reflects our values and our wishes.

“The Department has failed to offer any compelling explanation as to why it is so determined to stunt the development of these multi-denominational schools at a time of unprecedented parental demand for choice and diversity.”

ENDS

13 February 2018