The parents of pre-primary school children are being surveyed to discover their preferences.

 

The Department of Education initiative will evaluate satisfaction with current primary schools in 16 areas. 

 

The aim of the department is to determine what type of primary schools parents want to send their children to.

 

The plan has been rolled out in the attempt to offer more diversity to parents in the Irish primary school system.

 

 

Currently, just over 90 percent of primary schools are run by the Catholic Church. 

 

The Government has proposed a target by 2030 to have 400 multi or non-denominational primary schools available. 

 

It has been suggested that some of the schools will be created by transferring existing Catholic schools to multi-denominational.

 

Local Education and Training Boards are heading up the survey on behalf of the department.

 

 

The parents selected in the 16 areas will have until mid-June to fill out the survey. 

 

They are using local childcare providers in participating areas to reach parents.

 

The Department of Education in a statement said the results from the survey would pave the way to discussions with local schools. 

 

Catholic bishops in the majority of cases would be the point of contact.

 

 

They want to tease out the possibility of making the exchange from Catholic schools to non-denominational, based on the required demand. 

 

The statement cleared up a "common misconception" about funding.

 

It said the State cannot simply withdraw funds from one denominational primary school, in order to create a new multi or non-denominational school in the same premises. 

 

They cited constitutional complexities in property law and rights as an explanation.

 

These issues would need to be addressed before taking ownership or control of a school property. 

 

 

The Government did previously roll out a similar survey to establish if there was a need for multi-denominational primary education.

 

In 2012 and 2013, data was collected from parents in 43 areas.

 

The results called for "immediate changes" to the primary school system in 65 percent of surveyed areas. 

 

It is understood that despite the requests, new schools have not been created to meet the demand. 

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