Transferring School Patronage to the CNS Model

What does it mean to transfer school patronage to the CNS Model?

All schools in Ireland are run by patrons. Patrons are responsible for establishing the ethos of their schools. Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are the patrons of Community National Schools (CNSs), which have a multi-denominational ethos. When a school transfers patronage to CNS, the ETB takes over the running of the school and supports the school community with establishing a multi-denominational ethos. Transferring School Patronage is part of the Government’s plan to achieve 400 Community National Schools in Ireland by 2030. Recognising that the opening of new schools in areas of demographic growth could account for only a fraction of this number, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) commenced the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process in May 2018 to support the transfer of denominational schools to multi-denominational patronage. For more information on this process, visit the DES website here.  

Why is there a need for schools to transfer patronage?  

Recent census data has shown that Irish society is becoming increasingly diverse. With a primary school system that is predominately denominational, the need to grow the multi-denominational sector is apparent. Through the transfer of denominational schools to multi-denominational patronage, greater diversity of school choice becomes available to families living in established communities where a demand for multi-denominational education exists, but the opening of a new school is not viable. Transfer of school patronage also ensures a greater spread of multi-denominational schools across the country.  

What does transfer of patronage to a Community National School involve?

Transfer of school patronage to CNS is a transformative process which involves both cultural and systematic changes to school life. Through the process, schools transform their existing denominational ethos to a multi-denominational one. Changes to school governance procedures also occur. Transfer of school patronage to a Community National School requires time, professional development and meaningful engagement from the school community, but is directly supported by the patron, the local Education and Training Board (ETB), and Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI). Click the links below for more information on ETB Ethos and Governance Supports for Community National Schools 

(Link to CNS Ethos Page) (Link to CNS Governance Page) 

What is an ETB and what are the benefits to having them as patron?  

ETBs are statutory authorities with responsibility for Community National Schools, 245 post-primary schools, and a wide range of adult and further education training centres and services. They have developed an excellent reputation for their provision of inclusive, innovative, high quality education that meets the needs of the entire community. 

Having ETBs as patrons is significant for Community National Schools, as ETB schools benefit greatly from a broad range of supports and services that are not available to other schools. ETBs provide governance, educational, administrative, financial, Human Resources and Information Technology (IT) supports to schools. This has a direct impact on the children and families attending these schools, as it allows school leadership to focus on their primary task of leading teaching and learning. This ensures the highest standard of excellence in our schools. ETBs can also provide a valuable service to the parents of children attending CNSs through their adult education programmes. 

What do teachers from CNSs that have transferred patronage say about the process?  

We are now part of a school community, a groups of CNSs, everything is done correctly and by the book as such. I feel calmer since joining the CNS family as I now know that we are being guided to give our pupils the very best education we can. 

The supports are there, even though it is not always in the way we would like them. The network of principals is fantastic and it helps to be part of that group. Also, the characteristic spirit of our school is clearly defined and easily explained. 

Where can I find out more information about reconfiguration to the Community National School model 

As Education and Training Boards (ETBs) expand the growth of the Community National Schools across the country, other primary schools have become more aware of the model and are interested in exploring it with a view to possibly engaging in reconfiguration now or in the future.  

As Education and Training Boards (ETBs) expand the growth of the Community National Schools across the country, other primary schools have become more aware of the model and are interested in exploring it with a view to possibly transferring patronage now or in the future.

For more information on transferring patronage to the CNS model, please download the “Becoming a CNS” pack on this page. If your school/community is interested in reconfiguration, please contact your local Education and Training Board here.


Becoming a CNS (Eng)
Bheith i do CNS