Educate Together has welcomed the call by the Teaching Council for a re-balancing of the time allocated to the teaching of religion within College of Education training programmes. The multidenominational school patron body has been seeking equal weighting for its Ethical Education Curriculum in the Colleges of Education for many years.
Emer Nowlan, Educate Together’s Head of Education stated ‘This report’s findings should be viewed in the wider context of improving diversity of school type in Irish education. Educate Together supports the preparation of teachers to teach religious and ethical education in all Initial Teacher Education courses as part of a balanced curriculum. However at present, the overwhelming emphasis in the Colleges of Education is on denominational religious education with practically no preparation to teach in multi-denominational schools – which make up a large majority of the newest and fastest-growing schools in the country. Any review of time allocated to the teaching of religion in teacher education programmes should also address this issue’.
The Teaching Council report also cited evidence of programme overload with students lacking sufficient time for critical reflection on their professional development and practice. This follows the announcement by the Government in November last year of proposed new changes to teacher training programmes from 2012. These changes will place specific emphasis on the improvement of maths and literacy skills and could see a reduction or the dropping of certain academic courses in the Colleges of Education. Proposals also include the extension of BEd degree to 4 years and H Dip programmes to 2 years.
Emer Nowlan again, ‘The findings of Teaching Council report and the Minister's recent proposals to extend initial teacher education courses present us with an opportunity. If properly funded, planned and resourced we can significantly improve the preparation students receive to teach in schools in modern Irish society’
Educate Together currently operates 58 primary schools in Ireland and employs over 1,000 teachers. It is the fastest growing school patron in Irish education and places in its schools are in high demand.