Sunday, May 26, 2024

Three primary schools will no longer be under patronage of Catholic Church come September

A constant struggle: Catholics still control Irish schools

THREE PRIMARY SCHOOLS that were formerly under the patronage of the Catholic Church will reopen as multi-denominational schools in September. 

The schools, based in Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, will now be under the patronage of their local Education and Training Board (ETB).

The schools will be Community National Schools (CNSs), which are a state-run, co-educational, and multi-denominational primary school model offered by ETBs.

In April, a Dublin primary school also divested from the Catholic Church, as a pilot consultation process on the patronage of primary schools continues. The school is now under the patronage of charity Educate Together.

These three new schools will bring the total number of CNSs nationwide to 32. 

Almost 90% of primary schools fall under the patronage of the Catholic Church, despite less than 70% of the population identifying as Catholic in the latest census. The government has a commitment of having 400 multi-denominational primary school across Ireland by 2030.

Currently, out of 3,116 primary schools across Ireland, only 152 are multi-denominational, including the CNSs.

Director of schools at Education and Training Board Ireland Dr Séamus Conboy said that that the change of patronage of the schools will not alter the curriculum or the staff.

“The main thing that changes is that the ethos in a CNS includes all children and their families equally throughout the school day, rather than prioritising one religion or belief over another,” he said.

He said that children will learn about different religious and non-religious beliefs, as well as the religions of their classmates.

“For Catholic families, these is still the option for children to make their first holy Communion or their Confirmation – the only difference us that preparation for the sacraments happens outside of the regular day.

“This approach ensures that preparation for the sacraments does not take away from the valuable teaching and learning time.”