Ethical Education at Primary Level

All primary schools have half an hour a day set aside for the patron’s programme. In religious-run schools, religious instruction is taught at this time. In Educate Together schools, the Learn Together Ethical Education Curriculum is taught. It includes learning about morality and spirituality; equality and justice; belief systems and an ethical approach to the environment. Learn Together teaches students about different belief systems as well as atheism, agnosticism and humanism, without promoting any one worldview over another.

Curriculum strands

There are four strands in the Learn Together Ethical Education Curriculum, as follows:

Strand 1: Moral & Spiritual
The aim of the strand is to help develop in children an understanding and awareness of right and wrong. We teach morality and spirituality outside of a religious context. We look at values such as respect, kindness, peace and co-operation. In older classes, work is also done on the development of a conscience and the analysis of ethical dilemmas. Pupils explore meditation and stillness.

Strand 2: Equality & Justice
The aim of this strand is to develop in students an understanding and awareness of issues relating to human rights, equality, diversity, social justice and social inclusiveness and to empower them to make a difference. Work is done on rights and responsibilities. Discrimination is addressed. Classes do work on issues such as homelessness, migrant rights, LGBT rights, racism and ageism. Democracy on local, national and international levels is addressed.

Strand 3: Belief Systems
The aim of this strand is to develop in children an understanding and awareness of the teachings of religious and non-theistic belief systems. We teach about the main world religions: Christianity; Islam; Judaism: Buddhism; Hinduism and Sikhism as well as Humanism; Atheism and Agnosticism.

Strand 4: Ethics & the Environment
The aim of this strand is to develop in children an appreciation and respect for their environment and to empower them to take an active role in its stewardship. Issues such as climate change, pollution, endangered species etc are addressed.

Online resources

Teachers, parents and students can access downloadable lessons and other resources for Ethical Education curriculum at both primary and second-level on the online resource bank:

Lesson plans

Educate Together has worked with a number of organisations in the development of specific lessons related to the Ethical Education curriculum:

  1. Educate Together and the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) introduced the first ever Humanism lesson plans for Irish primary schools in 2017. The lesson plans came about in response to a gap in relation to resources for teaching about philosophical outlooks that do not encompass a deity, and cover humanism, atheism and agnosticism. These groundbreaking lessons are available to download below.
  2. Educate Together was delighted to have been involved in the development of lessons on A History of Ireland in 100 Objects.