Educate Together Launches ‘Fair Transparent Equal’ campaign on school transfers
Current Government plan is tailored to needs of the Catholic Church
Educate Together is today launching a campaign to call on Minister of Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD to reconsider his recently announced ‘reconfiguration’ plans for school transfers.
The stated aim of Minister Bruton’s plan is to create more diversity and inclusiveness in the primary school system. But Educate Together believes that the plan is bad news for many children and their parents and objects on the grounds that it gives Catholic Bishops the final say in whether they transfer schools, and whom they transfer to.
This gives the Church continued undue influence on education that is inappropriate for Ireland in the 21st century.
Educate Together also objects to the plan on the following grounds:
- Conflicts of interest: the plan is to be overseen and run by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs), who are themselves also applying to run the schools. The ETBs act as patron for Community National Schools (CNS). It is a matter of public record that CNS schools are designed primarily to ensure that Catholic children are prepared for Catholic sacraments at school and are the Church’s preferred alternative model. This won't bring about real change.
- Denial of the rights of parents: The plan leaves families who are campaigning for truly equality-based schools outside the decision making process. Clearly, the wishes of families are not prioritised – rather they play second fiddle to the preferences of the Church.
Educate Together Chief Operating Officer Emer Nowlan commented:
“Put bluntly, the Government’s current plans could not be any less focused on the actual needs of families and Irish society in general, or any more suited to the Catholic Church. We – and others – are proposing a Fair, Transparent And Equal reconfiguration plan, which puts parental wishes where they should be: at the centre of the process."
Educate Together’s plan involves three main elements:
• Fairness: families in the 16 remaining areas still waiting for their Educate Together schools under the previous Government scheme should get them as soon as possible. They've waited long enough.
• Transparency: the Government should appoint an independent advisory group made up of all patron bodies as well as parent groups, rather than just the ETBs and the Church, to oversee reconfiguration of school provision.
• Equality: there needs to be a nationwide confidential online survey of parents, run by an impartial state agency. We would then, for the first time, know the true profile of parental demand for schools of different types and the Government could allocate school places and resources fairly.
Educate Together is today encouraging anybody who wants real change in Irish education to contact the Minister and their local TD to express their concerns. Educate Together has set up a dedicated campaign website on this important issue: www.educatetogether.net where people can find more information and email the Minister and their local public representatives to express their concerns.