In your coverage of the recent INTO conference, your readers may receive the impression that there is no existing model of education in Ireland that addresses the needs for equality and religious diversity in schools.
The Educate Together movement has developed such a model over the past 29 years. With 41 schools through the country, its model of multi-denominational education is now a tried and tested approach to school management and curriculum.
The Educate Together Model provides a “Learn Together” ethical education curriculum. In this programme, children are encouraged explore religion and culture and to build up a body of knowledge about the major belief systems of the world. Any family who wish their children to receive specific doctrinal classes in the school can do so outside school hours. This approach prevents segregation of children according to their family’s faith during the school day. It places the responsibility for faith formation firmly with the parents and their faith communities while is the responsibility of the school to provide an educational space of equality and respect for all. It also addresses the rights of teachers – who are never placed in a situation where they must teach as religious truth views that they may not themselves hold.
What is different about the developments in Diswellstown is that, for the first time in the modern era, the government is taking responsibility to set up a primary school.
Educate Together welcomes this long-overdue initiative. We look forward to working with the Minister and her officials as the precise configuration of this pilot project is worked out.