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Survey to focus on demand for schooling across the border

Survey to focus on demand for schooling across the border

Thousands of families in border counties will be surveyed before Christmas on demand for the option of sending their children to school in Northern Ireland.

About 12,000 families in the North were asked to complete a similar survey recently, and the Department of Education will issue its questionnaire here in the coming days.

It is understood that more than 500 children cross the border to go to school every day, most of them travelling north from the Republic.

The survey of demand for more cross-border schooling opportunities was ordered by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and his northern counterpart, John O’Dowd, in February, as reported at the time by the Irish Examiner. 

The North’s department of education sent details to 12,000 homes within 12 miles (19km) of the border in late October.  Mr Quinn’s officials have drawn up their own online version, with the families of about 9,000 pupils being notified through their schools.

Parents of children in junior infants and sixth class (or their equivalents) at primary schools six miles either side of the border, and those in first year of secondary schools within 12 miles of the border, are being surveyed.

Among the issues asked about are levels of awareness of the options for cross-border schooling, and the reasons why parents would or would not be interested in having their children educated in the other country.

Families can cite a range of issues they might see as obstacles to doing so, such as lack of places or transport, the different curriculum, costs of books and materials, separating children from friends, or inconvenience for work or child-minding arrangements.

The aim is also to establish parental preferences for school types, under headings such as religious ethos, gender mix, and language of instruction.

The results will inform future joint policy by both governments to facilitate further supports, mainly on issues like planning for school buildings based on projected enrolment growth that might arise from more cross-border education, and transport.

The outcomes are due to be discussed by Mr Quinn and Mr O’Dowd at the North-South Ministerial Council meeting in late Feb 2013.   The North’s department of education is analysing responses to its survey, and said it would not release further details before the ministers are briefed.

“The Department of Education and Skills in the south has yet to complete its element of the survey.

“A full report on the information gathered by the whole survey is to be submitted to the North- South Ministerial Council early next year,” said a spokesman.
Foilsithe ar 11 Nollaig 2012 / Foilsithe ar 11 Nollaig 2012

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