Fears for progress on two Educate Together Schools in Tipperary

Tipperary is one of five counties that currently have no provision of Educate Together national schools.  Hopes that this situation would be rectified in the near future were today threatened on foot of a recent decision in Killarney where the Diocese of Kerry has agreed to transfer patronage of a national school directly to the local Education and Training Board. This was done without consultation with Educate Together or other patrons and with limited consultation with local parents. The ETB-run model is that of the Community National School which, although styling itself as ‘multi-denominational’, continues to carry out faith formation within school hours and is the model favoured most highly by the Catholic Church.

Like Nenagh and Clonmel, Killarney parents chose Educate Together as their favoured school patron in a Government-run survey back in 2013. The news from Killarney has caused much concern amongst Nenagh and Clonmel parents that a similar situation may occur in their town and has jeopardised the prospect of an equality-based school in Tipperary.

Said Niall Wall, Regional Development Officer for Educate Together:

“Educate Together and local parents campaigned hard in Killarney to the extent of suggesting viable school buildings to the Department of Education in which to establish the Educate Together school that parents asked for. I know that parents in Nenagh and Clonmel will be deeply anxious that the Killarney situation will be replicated in Tipperary but I would like to reassure them that Educate Together will do all it can to prevent this from happening.”

Said Michael Ryan, local parent:

“I’m very concerned that the situation in Killarney may happen in Nenagh. There is no doubt that parents in the town should be consulted on any possibility of provision of an alternative school model. Having already chosen Educate Together it is time that we got our school.”


In 2011, the Government established the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector, with the stated aim to create more diversity and inclusiveness in the primary school system through ‘reconfiguration’ of Church buildings and schools. Parents in 43 areas were consulted on their school patron of choice and the parents of Nenagh and Clonmel chose Educate Together. In the intervening years progress has been slow and difficult, in part due to Departmental insistence that it be a ‘no cost’ process.

Hopes for parents in Tipperary

The Department of Education’s Action Plan for Education commits to:

commence discussions with existing and prospective patrons on potential “early movers” – schools in respect of which a desire for patronage reassignment has already been expressed.’”

This raised the hopes of Tipperary parents that they will finally get their Educate Together primary schools. However, news from Killarney suggests that the Department of Education favours a particular model of school – the Community National School model that, while acceptable to the Catholic Church, has yet to prove itself as a popular alternative with parents. 

Families interested in joining the campaign for an Educate Together school in Nenagh or Clonmel should contact newschools@educatetogether.ie, visit www.educatetogether.ie or the campaign Facebook pages: Educate Together Nenagh or An Educate Together National School for Clonmel. Alternatively, Educate Together has put together a website where parents can easily email their local TDs to express their concerns: www.educatetogether.net

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