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 to help them make an informed choice about their preferred model of school patronage for their child’s education. Parents will be able to access a survey and express a preference for the new school in the school planning area in which the child lives.


2. Where can I find information on the current and upcoming patronage processes?

Updates in relation to current or upcoming patronage processes will be announced on the OPPS website (patronage.education.gov.ie) and the Department’s website (www.education.ie).

3. What is a School Planning Area?

To help us plan for future school needs and analyse local population trends, the Department divides the country into a number of school planning areas. We use a Geographical Information System (GIS) and data from a range of sources to carry out nationwide demographic reviews. These reviews involve all school planning areas at primary and post-primary level so that we can determine where new schools will be needed in the future.


4. What is a ‘Regional Solution’?

In some cases, population growth in a single school planning area is not big enough to mean that a new school is needed, but if combined with population growth nearby, there may be enough demand for a new school. In such cases, a ‘regional solution’ may be put in place to serve more than one area.


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

Schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required to give priority to children from the school planning area or areas which the school was established to serve. Therefore, only parents of eligible children residing in the school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve can express a preference with regard to the patronage of the new school.

This does not mean that children from outside the school planning area cannot attend the school. Schools can enrol pupils from outside the designated school planning area if there is capacity.


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?

Schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required to give priority to children from the school planning area or areas which the school was established to serve. Therefore, only parents of eligible children residing in the school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve can express a preference with regard to the patronage of the new school.

You can apply for a place for your child in the school. Your child may be offered a place in the school if the school has available places.


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

The Department announced the establishment of 42 new schools at primary and post-primary level over the period 2019 – 2022.

There will be also further patronage processes for the rest of the new schools to be established in 2021 and 2022. Updates in relation to current or upcoming patronage processes will be announced on the OPPS website (patronage.education.gov.ie) 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 living within the boundaries of the relevant school planning area(s) in order for you to complete the patronage survey. If your Eircode is located outside the school planning area boundary, you will not be able to proceed.
  • If you think 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?

Updates in relation to the OPPS survey will be announced on the OPPS website and the Department’s website (www.education.ie).

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

The NSEG will consider the reports and will make recommendations on patronage to the Minister for Education and Skills. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations will be made available on the Department's website.


11. Where will the school be located?

Locations for new schools depend on the availability of suitable sites. The Department is currently identifying and acquiring sites. Locations for the new schools will be confirmed as soon as possible.


12. Will the new school be built in time for its opening date?

For some of the new schools, it is likely that a phased start-up will be necessary. This usually involves the use of interim (temporary) accommodation for a period of time. The permanent new school building can be planned and built once a site has been secured.


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

Following the recently announced measures to increase access to Irish-medium education as part of the patronage process, a number of the new schools have been designated as Irish-medium primary schools.< /p>

Further details are available here

As part of the patronage process, parents can tell us if they would prefer the language of the school to be English or Irish, or if they have no preference, where the school has not been designated as a gaelscoil. The results will be analysed and will feed into decision on the language of the school.

It is possible for post-primary schools to have Irish or English as the main language of the school and for schools with English as the main language to have an Irish-medium unit, called an ‘Aonad’ within the school.


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

The schools to be established will be co-educational schools.


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

New schools are provided in areas where the level of demographic growth means that existing schools can’t cater for all students. In many areas, it is possible to cater for additional students by increasing capacity in existing schools. This can be done by providing additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools.

While the recent announcement may not have included a new school for your area, the Department keeps the situation under on-going review. This includes consideration of increases in housing, such as is outlined in Project Ireland 2040.


16. Can you explain the demographic review 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). This uses 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 school provision is required, the delivery of additional places depends on the particular circumstances of each case and may be provided in a number of ways, such as:

  • 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 patronage process?

Maps of the school planning areas for patronage processes are available at the following link: The schools planning area maps


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

No, only one survey is permitted per eligible child. It is a matter for parents to agree on the school to which they would prefer to send their child. If more than one survey is filled in for the same child, the last completed survey will be counted.