Families living in the border area are to be consulted about the option of sending their children to primary and second level schools in the neighbouring jurisdiction.

A decision to carry out the survey has been agreed by Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn and his counterpart in the Northern Ireland executive, John O'Dowd.

Mr O’Dowd told RTE News that a questionnaire will be circulated through schools and community groups to assess the level of demand so that the provision of future services can be planned in a co-ordinated way.

The survey will concentrate on primary and second level pupils, living within six miles of the border.

It is hoped to have the information gathered and analysed in time for a North/South meeting of ministers in the autumn.

Mr Dowd said "we would like to see some practical measures on the ground by the new school year in September 2013."

He denied the initiative will put increased pressure on some rural schools facing the threat of closure.

He said we have growing cross border travel in terms of health care, we already have activity in the third level education sector and this survey will be to gauge the level of demand at primary and secondary level.