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Frequently Asked Questions

Parents will have many questions about the school they are considering sending their children to. This website aims to provide a complete picture of all aspects of the Educate Together network. This FAQ gives answers to many of the more common questions asked about our schools and their ethos.

Q : What is Educate Together?


A : 

Educate Together is the representative organisation of the Educate Together schools and associations throughout the Republic of Ireland. Today there are 68 primary schools, with three second-level schools opening in September 2014. The organisation became a company limited by guarantee in 1998 and has charitable status. It has a National Office which provides representative and support services to existing schools and Start-up groups. The Directors and members of the company work in a voluntary capacity.

Q : How can I get a place for my child in an Educate Together school?


A : 

You must apply directly to the school of your choice. The list of schools is available here on our website. Many of our schools operate a “First Come First Served” policy, so it is important that you apply as soon as possible.

Q : What can I do if there is no Educate Together school in my vicinity?



A : 

You should contact our Development Section. The best way is by email to info@educatetogether.ie and the relevant Regional Development Officer will contact you. There may be plans to open new schools in your vicinity or we can advise you of other Educate Together schools nearby. We are aware of the large number of parents who are unable to get places in some of our schools and we are working to provide more places in these areas. You may also contact the Department of Education and tell them that you want such a school. It is the State’s responsibility to provide suitable education for your child. You can express this in a standard Letter to the Minister

Q : Why are they called Educate Together schools?



A : 

Educate Together was carefully chosen as the name of our organisation to reflect the coming together of children of different social, cultural, ethnic, religious and non-religious backgrounds. The term was first used in the 1970s together with the concept of “No Child an Outsider”. It also reflects a commitment to co-education, with girls and boys being educated together. We hope that the name reflects our commitment to inclusion and equality in the running of our schools.

Q : How are Educate Together Schools different?


A : 

Boards of Management in Irish national schools manage the school on behalf of the Patron. For example, in Catholic schools the Patron is the local bishop. The Patron determines the ethos, or characteristic spirit of the school, so in Catholic schools there would be a Catholic ethos. In Educate Together schools, the Patron is a company obliged to operate schools that guarantee equality of access and esteem to children “irrespective of their social, cultural or religious backgrounds”. Most Educate Together schools are set up by groups of parents who wish for this type of school in their locality. As a result there is a high level of parental participation in the operation of the school. Each school is a member of the company and so there is transparency, accountability and democratic involvement by the school communities in the decisions made by the Patron. You can see the fundamental legal basis of the Educate Together movement in the Educate Together Charter.

Q : Are Educate Together schools anti-religious?



A : 

No, they are multi-denominational. The schools provide an environment in which the spiritual background of each child is equally respected whatever their family’s viewpoint. Our Ethical Education Curriculum, called Learn Together, has four strands. One specific strand aims to develop in children a critical knowledge, understanding and awareness of the teachings of religious and non-theistic belief systems and how these systems relate to our shared human experience. The Learn Together curriculum aims to inform rather than instruct. It teaches children about religions rather than teaching that one is “the right way to think”. We believe that specific religious formation is the responsibility of parents and religious organisations outside school. Within the school we aim to ensure that no child has to be set apart as a result of their religion. We also understand that many parents want their children to receive formal religious instruction. With this in mind, our school boards facilitate the organisation of voluntary faith formation classes outside school hours. These classes are organised with the assistance of the relevant church authorities.

Q : What does ‘child-centred’ mean? 


A : 

In education, “Child-centred” means that teaching is carried out according to the developmental interests of the child. The curriculum in Irish National Schools has been formally child-centred since 1971. This means that the teacher in the class is committed to addressing as far as possible the individual needs of each child.
In terms of the Educate Together Charter, our commitment to the Child-centred principle means that the Board of the school must take the educational interests of the children as its fundamental priority. In a school context, it is important to understand that the Board’s commitment is to all the children in the school, whose interests must be considered equally.

Q : Why are all Educate Together schools co-educational?


A : 

Although most primary schools in Ireland are now co-educational, that was not the case when Educate Together started in the 1970s. In today’s terms, our commitment to co-education means that Educate Together is committed to encouraging children to explore their full range of opportunities irrespective of gender. We have learnt that this means much more than simply putting girls and boys in the same classroom and teaching them the same programme. We have developed programmes to counter gender stereotyping and inequity in all aspects of school life. We think that encouraging an ability amongst children to have respectful relationships between girls and boys is a vital part of preparing them for their a future in a society where hopefully there will be increasing equality between genders.

Q : How are Educate Together schools funded?


A : 

Educate Together National Schools are funded (or under-funded) on an exactly equal basis as other National Schools in Ireland. The State pays the teachers and a series of grants to the Board of Management, mainly determined by the number of children attending. Unfortunately these grants never cover the real costs of the school and the school has to run fund-raising programmes to make up the difference. Educate Together’s legal charter prevents our schools discriminating on the grounds of social background, so all our fundraising programmes are voluntary. Together with other management bodies, Educate Together is campaigning for the State to reverse the long standing under-funding of primary education in Ireland and to radically increase the grant per child paid to schools.

Q : Can I make complaints about a school to the national office?

A : 

Under the Education Act 1998, legally, all schools are managed by the school Board of Management, on behalf of the school patron. Therefore parents wishing to make a complaint against a school or individual staff member of a school should contact the relevant school authorities. Details of the procedures can be found on the website of the Department of Education and Skills. The National Office can only provide assistance to callers who have already followed the above outlined procedures. While we understand that callers, occasionally, may wish to remain anonymous, unfortunately we are not in a position to investigate complaints in these circumstances.

Should you have questions that are specific to individual schools in our network contact details for all our schools are supplied in the Our Schools section.

Address: 11 - 12 Hogan Place, Dublin 2, Ireland - Charity Number: CHY 11816