Recent media reports that characterise multi-denominational / equality-based schools as schools that do not mark Christmas, St Patrick’s Day and other events are, from Educate Together’s perspective, both incorrect and misleading.
At the core of Educate Together’s equality-based ethos is that pupils in our schools are exposed to different beliefs and perspectives in a respectful way that encourages critical thinking.
In December of each year, for example, many Educate Together schools host annual Festivals of Lights, Seasonal Get Togethers and Winter Fairs. These are inclusive celebrations that incorporate elements of Christmas, Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice as well as other belief systems and philosophical convictions. Religious aspects of these festivities are approached from a learning perspective, rather than from a promotional perspective. At the heart of these celebrations is the principle that all members of the school community are welcome and equally respected.
Christmas is, of course, marked in Educate Together schools nationwide; just as our schools endeavour mark Diwali, Eid, Vaisakhi and other religious festivals throughout the school term.
Parental demand should drive the divestment process
In regards to the divestment process, Educate Together is not interested in ‘taking over’ any schools and imposing an ethos against the will of any local school communities. The growth in the Educate Together school network continues to be driven by parental demand and we support the rights of families to access the education they want for their children.
Our aim is to create a balanced educational choice in communities, so that the rights of all families are equally respected.
Educate Together has successfully transferred a number of schools to its patronage over the years – all of which are now thriving equality-based school communities. Educate Together stands willing to work with the Department of Education, Church authorities and any other partners in delivering a national network of equality-based schools in line with proven parental demand.