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Educate Together Blog

Educate Together Blog

School Patronage Reconfiguration FAQs

For the last few years, Educate Together have only been able to open schools where there is a shortage of school places due to population growth. However, we are now opening schools in areas where the population is stable and where there is demand from parents for Educate Together schools. Over 96 per cent of schools in Ireland are denominational (religion or faith based) and this is not a true reflection of the Irish population. If there is a choice of schools in areas then schools are free to keep their own ethos and parents are free to chose the ethos that suits them.

What is an Educate Together school?

Educate Together national schools are non-fee paying, state-funded primary schools that teach the national Primary Curriculum. They are open to all, irrespective of social, cultural or religious background. They are child-centred and focussed on the best educational outcome. Educate Together’s Ethical Education curriculum ‘Learn Together’ , supports children’s moral and spiritual development and teaches children about different belief systems. Everyone takes part and no-one has to opt out.

They are staffed by professionally qualified teachers and have Boards of Management with strong parent representation. Educate Together have been delivering high-quality education to Ireland’s children since 1978.

How do you know there is demand for Educate Together schools?

Because of surveys undertaken in 2012 and 2013 by the Department of Education and Skills.  

Where was this done?

In 43 towns and parts of cities throughout Ireland. Of the 28 areas that change was shown to be needed, 25 of the areas showed demand for Educate Together schools. In 2016 the areas where schools may be reassigned from denominational patronage to Educate Together patronage are:

  • Killarney 
  • Arklow
  • Clonmel
  • Westport
  • Athlone
  • North Dublin City
  • Kells
  • Leixlip
  • Dundalk

Will Educate Together be taking over my local school?

Educate Together is not interested in taking schools from people where there is no desire for change. However, it is important to point out that a significant minority of people in many towns across Ireland currently do not have the option of an Educate Together school to attend. It is important that their views are heard and accommodated just as much as the majority view. This process will hopefully identify where changes can be made, that are acceptable to all. 

What will happen to staff / teachers from Catholic schools that are divested?

These schools will not open in new buildings but will take over buildings being vacated by Catholic schools. Educate Together proposes to work closely with schools under Catholic patronage and the Department of Education and Skills to find the best solutions for all in each case. Of course teachers will be consulted in this. In some instances the teachers will stay in the re-assigned school, in other cases teachers may be facilitated in transferring into another school. No teachers will lose their job because of divestment. 

What students will these new schools take in?

A decision on which classes will be enrolling in the schools has not yet been made, but all schools will be opening with at least one junior infant class. The Department’s decision will be dependent on accommodation and other factors. Educate Together is collecting expressions of interest from parents of primary school children of all ages in each area. 

Is Educate Together anti-religious?

No, Educate Together schools embrace the identity of all children and their families, whether they are religious or not. The model is one of equality and respect for diversity.

Educate Together schools deliver an ethical education curriculum (called Learn Together). This covers moral and spiritual development, equality and justice, belief systems and ethics and the environment. The  "Belief Systems" strand allows children to explore the main belief systems in the world and includes atheistic and humanist perspectives. If an Educate Together school facilitates a group of parents to run faith-formation classes in the school building, any such classes may only take place as an 'opt-in' activity, outside the compulsory school day. 

What about the areas surveyed that the report has not recommended for change?

The report states that 15 areas are not recommended for change, as they do not currently exhibit viable demand for a new patron. It also recognises that this may change in the future at which time the position could be re-examined. In the areas where not enough parents have opted for Educate Together to make a school viable – there is a commitment to revisit these figures in the future. Educate Together is committed to supporting the rights of these families to access the education they want for their children.

Address: Educate Together, Equity House, 16/17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7, Ireland - Charity Number: CHY 11816