Department of Education and Skills Logo

Online Patronage Process System (OPPS)

Department of Education and Skills Logo
Online Patronage Process System (OPPS)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is the OPPS?

The new Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed to provide objective information to all parents and guardians which will allow them to make an informed choice about their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education. Parents will be able to access this site and express a preference for the new school for the school planning area in which the child resides.


2. What schools currently have patronage processes ongoing?

The Online Patronage Preference System is now closed for the 12 new primary schools to be established in 2019.


3. What is a School Planning Area?

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, the Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas. The Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the need for school places across the country will arise. The GIS uses data from a range of sources. Nationwide demographic exercises involving all school planning areas at primary and post-primary level determines where new schools will be needed in the future.


4. What is a ‘Regional Solution’?

In some instances, while projected growth in a single school planning area may not, of itself, warrant provision of a new school, where the combined demographic increases across a number of adjacent school planning areas indicate sufficient demand for a viable school, a regional solution may be put in place to serve these areas.


5. Why can't I express a preference if my child does not live in one of these areas?

All new schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required to enrol children from within the designated school planning area which the school was established to serve. Therefore, only parents of eligible children residing in the school planning area can express a preference with regard to the patronage of the new school.

This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area, rather it reflects the need to accommodate in the first instance the demographic for which the school was established.


6. My child lives just outside the school planning area and I cannot express a patronage preference – does this mean my child cannot attend this school?

All new schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required to enrol children from within the designated school planning area which the school was established to serve. This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area, rather it reflects the need to accommodate in the first instance the demographic for which the school was established.


7. Why can’t I express a preference for one of the other new schools which were recently announced by the Minister?

The Minister announced the establishment of 42 new schools at primary and post-primary level over the period 2019 – 2022. The patronage process was recently completed in respect of the post-primary schools to be established in 2019. The process in respect of the 12 primary schools due to be established in 2019 has now commenced.

There will be further patronage processes for the remainder of the new schools and updates in this regard will be announced on the OPPS website and the Department’s website (www.education.ie).


8. Who should I contact if I am having technical issues?

If there is a technical issue with the site, please contact us at opps@education.gov.ie


9. Why will my Eircode not let me enter the survey?

There are a number of possible reasons for this as set out below:

  • Your child must be resident within the boundaries of the relevant school planning area in order for you to submit your patronage preference. If your Eircode is located outside the school planning area boundary, you will not be able to proceed.
  • If you consider that the Eircode is within the school planning area and that an error has been made, please contact the Department at opps@education.gov.ie
  • Please ensure that the Eircode has been entered correctly. The Eircode website states that: "To avoid confusion, we have not used the letter 'O' in Eircodes, however the number '0' (zero) may be included in the Eircode for your address"
  • If you do not know the Eircode, you can find the Eircode at https://www.eircode.ie
  • If you cannot locate your Eircode or an Eircode has not yet been assigned, please contact: opps@education.gov.ie

10. What are the next steps in the patronage process?

The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Once the online system for patronage preferences has closed, the Department will complete assessment reports for the NSEG on each of the four areas.

Following their consideration of the Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG submits a report with recommendations to the Minister for consideration and final decision. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations for all such patronage processes will be made available on the Department's website.


11. Where will the school be located?

The location for all of the schools will be determined as part of the site acquisition process. Decisions will be made in relation to appropriate sites for the schools announced and will be confirmed at a later date.


12. Will the new school be built by 2019?

A phased start-up is envisaged initially which typically involves the use of interim accommodation. A permanent new school building can be planned once a site has been secured.


13. Will this be an English-medium or Irish-medium school?

The patronage process incorporates consideration of, and the potential for, Irish-medium provision. Parental preferences for each patron and for Irish-medium or English-medium provision, together with the extent of diversity currently available in the area, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.


14. Will this be a mixed or single-sex school?

The schools to be established in 2019 will be co-educational primary schools.


15. Why isn’t there going to be a school in my area?

In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other school planning areas in the future. Based on the current analysis, this need can be addressed through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools.

While the announcement may not have included a new post-primary school for your school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular would have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.


16. Can you explain the demographic process?

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, the Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System (GIS), using data from a range of sources, to identify where the need for school places across the country will arise. With this information, the Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

  • Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools
  • Extending the capacity of a school or schools
  • Provision of a new school or schools

17. Can I obtain a map of the school planning area for this and previous patronage processes?

A map of the school planning areas for the primary and post-primary schools to open in 2019 is accessible at the following link: The schools planning area maps


18. Will there be a patronage process for the primary school to be established in 2019 to serve the Drumcondra_Marino_D1 school planning area?

With regard to the primary school to serve the Drumcondra_Marino_Dublin 1 school planning area to be established in 2019, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG) advised that a new patronage process was not required in this specific case and recommended that the new school to be established in 2019 to serve the Drumcondra_Marino_Dublin 1 school planning area should be a Gaelscoil under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta. In line with the recommendations of the NSEG, patronage of this school has been awarded to An Foras Pátrúnachta.


19. Can parents express more than one preference in respect of an individual child?

Only one vote is permitted per eligible child. It is a matter for parents to agree on the school to which they will send their child and, by extension, to agree on the expression of parental preference for the patronage of a school. In the event of multiple preferences being expressed in relation to an individual child, the final full preference will be counted.