Bishops launch survey of parents on Factors Determining School Choice

08 Apr 2008

8 April 2008

Bishops launch survey of parents on Factors Determining School Choice

95% of parents are satisfied with their decision to send their child to the school they currently attend


The Council for Research and Development of the Irish Bishops’ Conference today [8 April 2008] published Factors Determining School Choice at a press conference in the Columba Centre, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Factors Determining School Choice is a report on a survey of the attitudes of parents of children attending Catholic primary schools in Ireland. 

Launching the report, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Chair of the Bishops’ Commission for Education said: “This is a timely report which explores a crucial issue for the future of education provision, namely factors determining school choice.

“This is the first all-island survey of its kind which analyses the views of parents of primary school children, North and South. This survey is the first time that the authentic voice of parents in the matter of school choice can be heard and for this we are grateful to the respondents of the questionnaire.


“The primacy of parents’ rights in regard to the education of their children is well established in international instruments of human rights, and in Irish law, as well as in Church policy. 

“It is evident from the survey that reasons governing choice of school are complex, it is therefore all the more important to have as much information as possible on factors influencing such choice and indeed to find the factor that best indicates the reason for the parents’ choice.”

According to the author of the survey, Mr Eoin O’Mahony, Social Researcher with the Council for Research & Development: “The ways in which primary schooling is provided in Ireland are changing. North and South, schools and the communities that they serve are accommodating to changed circumstances and new challenges. In the Republic of Ireland, while the patron model is not under threat, new patrons are emerging to establish schools for diverse populations of children. In Northern Ireland there are changes occurring that are related to the new political dispensation.


“Many of these changes relate to questions of ‘who’: who is in charge of the running of the school? Who organises the ways in which the school interacts with the State authorities? Whom does the school serve? 

“Today’s report outlines the results of a survey of parents and their views on school choice and related matters. The survey results help to fill an information gap by asking parents of primary school children about the choices they have made on behalf of their children.”

Key findings of this survey include: 98.3% of respondents stated that they were aware when applying to enrol their child that the school choice was a Catholic school;


95.1% of respondents stated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their decision to send their child to the school they currently attend; 

94% answered that education is a shared responsibility between parents and the school;

90% of parents stated that the school their child was attending was their first choice;

81.2% of parents agreed that they are sufficiently involved in their child’s preparation for First Holy Communion;

Between 76% and 80% of parents found it very easy to enrol their child;


70% stated that the religious education provided by the school is important; 

67.9% of parents disagreed that the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation are best prepared for outside of the school setting;

63% of respondents believe that the churches should continue to have a prominent role in the provision of primary schooling;

60.3% of parents believe that the school’s teachers should promote the religious life of the school;

57.8% of parents believe it is important that a school is under the management of the Catholic parish;

48% would choose a school under the management of a religious denomination.


Notes to Editors:


– The survey was an attempt to understand the reasons why parents choose the school that their child is attending. The questionnaire was available in Polish, Lithuanian, French, Latvian and Spanish.

– This survey was carried out by the Council for Research and Development of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference during October and November 2007.

– 1,065 questionnaires were distributed to parents of school going children – Irish and non-Irish nationals, North and South, across all 26 dioceses on the island.

– 503 questionnaires were returned and analysed.

– Response rate of 47%.


Factors Determining School Choice is now available in the “publications” section of

Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications 086 172 7678
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer 087 233 7797