Consultations have taken place in two Cork City primary schools recently, as part of a process to determine if they will change from being separate Catholic schools to one multi-denominational primary school, but some parents have raised concerns.
Parents were invited to sessions in St Brendan’s Girls’ School and St Mark’s NS, both in The Glen. It comes after Cork was named by Education Minister Norma Foley as one of a number of pilot areas for arrangements intended to increase the number of multi-denominational primary schools.
The parent of one pupil in St Brendan’s said there is significant opposition to the plans among parents.
“Everyone is against it,” he told The Echo. “We wanted our child to get her education in an all-girls Catholic school. That is the contract we have agreed with the school.
“If there was demand for this, well and good, but there is no demand. St Brendan’s is a great school, and we want it to continue the way it is.”
Independent councillor Ken O’Flynn has heard from other parents in the area with misgivings about the plans.
“The parents are deeply concerned the schools will be mixed,” he said. “They are concerned about what services will be available to them. You can’t enter a contract with parents that their child will be educated a certain way and then be told afterwards that option is no longer on the table.
"We shouldn’t have a situation where a child starts in a school and expects a certain type of education and then halfway through for it to change.”
A spokesperson for St Mark’s BNS said listening “to all viewpoints” was part of the consultation process.
“A consultation has begun with all strands of the school communities in the Glen area of Blackpool parish,” they said.
“Meetings with parents, staffs, and boards of management took place intensively during the past week to provide information on the school’s reconfiguration process, to listen to all viewpoints, and this consultation process continues.
“Both the Diocese of Cork and Ross and the independent facilitator put in place by the Department of Education to engage with school communities about this continue to reflect on the discussions at these meetings.”
But the parent of a St Brendan’s pupil said he was “none the wiser”’ having attended the consultation session.
“There was no information given,” he said. “It seems that it will only be the new kids who will be non-denominational. Everyone is still in the dark."