Delegates attending the Educate Together Annual General Meeting on Saturday 23 May heard of an ‘important step’ for Educate Together. The meeting, attended by representatives of Educate Together schools across the country, was held in Portlaoise Educate Together National School.
In consultation with members, the Board of Directors of Educate Together has taken an important decision for the future of the organisation – Educate Together will no longer describe itself as a ‘multi-denominational’ organisation but will use the term ‘Equality-based’.
At different points in the history of Educate Together, the term ‘multi-denominational’ has been opposed by families, teachers and pupils who do not identify themselves in religious terms. A working group established by the organisation found that its use implicitly suggests a religious focus that has become confusing to parents, teachers and general public. The decision to discontinue the use of ‘multi-denominational’ does not change the standing commitment of the organisation to “equality of access and esteem to children irrespective of their social, culture or religious background”.
National network of Educate Together schools
Addressing the AGM delegates, Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe called on the government to accelerate the establishment of a national network of Educate Together schools around Ireland:
“We call on the Minister to work with Educate Together to accelerate the establishment of a national network of Educate Together model schools as soon as possible.”
Evidence of the growth in demand for Educate Together schools in 2015 is clear: despite all the physical and financial obstacles, the Educate Together network will grow by at least four primary schools in Dublin, Galway, Mayo and Wexford with five second-level schools opening in 2015 and 2016. Such is the demand that the pre-enrolment list for Educate Together’s new primary school in Pelletstown, Dublin, has reached over 350 submissions since February.
There are currently active campaigns for second-level schools in Dublin city, North and South, Cork, Galway, Limerick, South Kildare and the national office receives daily requests from parents for information on the feasibility of opening schools in many other areas. However, there are still large areas of the country where parents have no alternative but to send their children to denominational schools (93% of the entire primary school system).
Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan was the keynote speaker at the AGM. She said ’The growth of Educate Together schools has been truly remarkable and I reiterate my support in working with you to provide choice’.
Ms O’Sullivan continued ‘The growth of Educate Together is testament to philosophy of the movement, the leadership that has been shown and a change in Irish society – more tolerant, more welcoming.’