Educate Together wishes to correct the statement made by Michael Moriarty, General Secretary, in his speech to the IVEA Congress at Ballybrit, Co. Galway, September 17.
In this speech he stated:
“IVEA absolutely rejects the assertion of Educate Together that their vision of a model of multidenominational school would (to use words quoted on their behalf) surpass anything on offer from the Vocational Education Committees.
It will be for others to decide whether Educate Together’s vision of a new approach to second-level education will match or surpass the high standards of existing patrons of second level schools. Educate Together did not make the assertion referred to and has not sought to deride in anyway the excellent work of the IVEA and its VEC members. Neither has Educate Together asked others to make such a statement.
In this context, it is regrettable that the IVEA should take an inaccurate swipe at our organisation and its efforts to contribute to the development of second level education in Ireland. It is widely known that Educate Together’s preferred option for the development of such a project will be in partnership with a VEC. In seeking to identify and resolve shortcomings in our education system, Educate Together is not hostile to other providers. Its efforts over the past 30 years have been to meet the demand from parents for an alternative to the overwhelming provision of faith-based schools. Its efforts in second level today are to enable the 10,000 children in Educate Together primary schools continue their education in a similar environment. We hope that the statement made does not signal a rejection of future co-operation as it is our understanding that a Statutory body such as a VEC has a duty to the taxpayer to work co-operatively with such initiatives.
The statement referred to by Michael Moriarty is contained in the report of a 2-year feasibility study conducted by the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin. It is a single sentence in a major piece of research. The study is the professional and independent work of highly qualified, internationally recognised researchers. The study was commissioned by the Board of Directors of Educate Together to enable them to assess the viability of opening the first Educate Together second-level school. The study was carried out to very high standards of professional integrity and independence. Educate Together would like to state categorically that it does not censor the views of researchers nor does it seek to control their results.
If the IVEA has issues with the views expressed, it should raise them with the principal author of the report, Dr. Aidan Seery, School of Education, Trinity College.
One strand of the research surveyed the scale and nature of the demand for Educate Together second-level schools among parents of children currently attending Educate Together primary schools. Of these, an overwhelming 90% of parents indicated that if the opportunity existed they would send their children to an Educate Together post-primary school.
The report provides a strong endorsement for Educate Together primary schools. An overwhelming majority of parents said that the Educate Together ethos was noticeable in the day-to-day running of their children’s school and 92% said that the Educate Together philosophy works in practice. This philosophy, as taught through the Learn Together ethical education curriculum, has been cited as an example of best integration practice by the Director of the EU monitoring body on racism and xenophobia (now FRA), Beate Winkler.
Educate Together applied to the Minister for Education and Science to be registered as a patron of second-level schools in December 2007, based on its outstanding track record at primary level. The Trinity report adds weight to the pressure already being put on the Minister by parents around the country to confirm this registration as a matter of urgency so that Educate Together can proceed to work with families at local level to provide for the type of modern, holistic, multi-denominational, learner-centred education they want.
A national day of action is being organized in the 56 Educate Together primary schools around the country on September 25th to support this campaign.