A new pilot project aimed at saving small rural schools will get underway in September.
Education Minister Norma Foley has announced that the pilot project will involve clusters of three to five schools sharing resources.
One issue likely be explored is having a number of schools under the management of one principal.
Small schools in rural areas have been under increasing threat because of population decline in their communities.
The Department of Education defines a small school as one with four mainstream teachers or fewer, which account for almost half of all primary schools.
For the purposes of the pilot project, six clusters will be formed - including two in Galway - with between three and five schools in each.
Each cluster will be supported by a part-time local coordinator.s 80%
The idea is that schools within a cluster collaborate with each other and identify common challenges and trial innovative solutions.
Sharing aspects of school leadership is one idea to be examined, and others include using technology to link schools for teaching and learning aspects of the curriculum.
The pilot clusters will also see how well they can share common activities and special educational needs provision, as well as procuring and maintaining IT systems/services.
The INTO has been closely involved with the project, along with other stakeholders.