The Department of Education is asking parents in 38 towns and areas around Ireland what kind of primary school they want for their children.

It follows a pilot survey that was carried out in five areas towards the end of last year, which found a need for multi-denominations schools in each area.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said that he does not expect a transfer of school buildings from the Catholic Church, in areas where parents express a desire for another type of school, to happen before 2014.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Quinn said that his department had written to the bishops in those areas.

However, he said that it will await the results of the full survey before inviting a response from the bishops detailing what schools they will transfer.

Mr Quinn: "The process will begin as soon as we have the details of the survey available.

"We will convey that to the Roman Catholic Church Authorities by the end of February. They then will have six months in total to consider how they are going to implement the findings of it.

"We would like an interim report after three months."

He said he was disappointed with the turnout in the pilot survey, which ranged from 25% to 44%.

However, he said that a sufficient number of people took part for the department to determine that there is a demand in each of the five areas for an alternative type of school.

Mr Quinn said that the period for the latest survey will be extended to four weeks, and leaflets will be sent to homes in the areas to inform parents that the survey is taking place.

A list of areas to be surveyed, as well as the survey form itself, can be accessed at