Parents in parts of Northern Ireland are to be asked for their views on cross-border education, it was announced in the Assembly today.
A survey conducted by Department of Education aims to gauge the level of demand from those living in border areas in securing a place for their child at a school in the Republic.
Sinn Fein Education Minister John O’Dowd said: “The nature of the lives of families in the border area continue to evolve. Many parents now live in one jurisdiction and work on the other, but their children can potentially face barriers to crossing the border in search of places in schools.
“Some of the barriers are legislative in nature and my department is currently looking at this, however in many cases parents are just not aware of the options that may be open to them.
“Earlier this year, through the medium of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC), Minister Ruairi Quinn and I agreed to proceed with a joint survey to examine how education is provided along the border corridor and whether there is scope to engage in joint planning of the respective schools’ estates in this area.”
The online questionnaire will be available to parents of pupils attending schools that lie within six miles (for primary schools) and 12 miles for (post-primary schools) of the border.
The findings will also be used to assess the potential for cross-border planning of schools’ estates.
Mr O’Dowd added: “Over the coming weeks a questionnaire will be issued to families in the border area. This is being done through schools.
“I would encourage parents to take the opportunity to respond so that we can gain a better understanding of their views, concerns, or perceptions about crossing the border to access education.”
The intention is that the results of the survey and proposals on the way forward will be considered at the first NSMC education meeting in 2013.
An equivalent survey is being carried out by the Republic’s Department of Education and Skills.