Parental demand for Educate Together schools continues to grow. In a survey of parents conducted for Educate Together by Behaviour & Attitudes, 2 out of 3 parents said that they would be happy to have an Educate Together school in their locality.
The survey, conducted in April, is a follow-on from research on parental attitudes conducted in November 2010. The new survey shows awareness of Educate Together amongst parents has continued to grow steadily. Amongst those who live near an Educate Together school, more than half (52%) would be willing to send their children to that school, a 6% increase. There has also been an increase in the numbers of parents who would like to see more Educate Together schools (61%), with a significant reduction in the numbers of those opposed to such an expansion (22%).
CEO of Educate Together, Paul Rowe welcomed the survey findings:
‘Interest in Educate Together is growing steadily across Ireland. Where our schools exist, most people living in the area are happy with them. Across the country, the majority of parents would like to see an Educate Together school near them, which is very positive news.’
When asked whether they would support the idea that one of the Catholic schools in their area might transform into an Educate Together school, more than half indicated support for this. 1 in 4 parents said that they would ‘strongly support’ such a move. The numbers of parents dissatisfied with this proposal (34%) has decreased by 11% since 2010.
According to Mr. Rowe:
‘Support for the Department of Education’s proposals to facilitate the divestment of Catholic schools to other patrons, such as Educate Together is very encouraging. There is a growing desire amongst parents for a choice of schools; a choice which is not yet available everywhere in Ireland.’
The unique approach to religious education in an Educate Together school, whereby children follow a common ethical education curriculum during the school day, with specific doctrinal instruction taking place on an opt-in basis after school time, was welcomed by the majority, with 6 out of 10 parents surveyed describing this as ‘appealing’.
Values of justice and equality, child-centeredness and inclusion of minorities were listed by parents as the most important criteria they consider when selecting a school for their children. Traditional factors such as the proximity of the school or being part of the parish, have decreased in importance over the period.
Although awareness of Educate Together has remained highest in Leinster, awareness across Ireland is growing, most significantly in Munster.