Stories

Educate Together schools provide a unique, inclusive and equality-based school ethos, as set out in Educate Together’s CharterThe Charter describes schools that guarantee equality of access and esteem to children irrespective of their social, cultural or religious background, are learner centred in their approach to education and are run as participatory democracies, with respectful partnership between parents, pupils and staff. Also enshrined in the Charter is an obligation to put our students at the centre of everything we do. Below you can find out more about each of the four principles of the Educate Together ethos:

Real stories from the Educate Together community

Educate Together’s schools mean so much to the lives of the children and young people who attend them, and to the communities that they are a part of. You can read, watch and listen to real stories from the students, staff and families involved in the Educate Together school movement on this page and at the links above. Do you have an experience from an Educate Together school which you would like to share? Share your story here or by email: info@educatetogether.ie

Remote learning in an analogue world – Ennis ETNS

“We must not condemn a generation of less privileged children because their voices are quieter and harder to hear. We must stop, we must listen, we must ensure we raise up and amplify those voices. That will be our legacy when we reflect on our response to this extraordinary situation. How we treated those most in need, how we advocated for those who were not being heard, and how we responded to the damage caused to them.”

Read Trina Golden’s story here

A day in the life: Senior Infants at Carrigaline ETNS

“In order to demonstrate agency, the children were then asked to create a piece of art that demonstrates how plastic is hurting ocean animals. Many of the children chose recyclable materials to create their artwork. The children were then invited to share this artwork with a family member to tell them about what they have learned. Here is some of the wonderful work that they created:”

Read their story here

A day in the life: Galway ETSS

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“I think learning online is fun. I find all the teachers answer my questions because all I have to do is type it in. I find this way of communicating is easier if you are struggling with something.”

Here’s an update from the staff, students and parents of Galway ETSS, on how the community has adapted to the covid-19 restrictions.

Read their story here

A day in the life: Somerdale Educate Together Primary School

“We’ve been checking in with Educate Together schools to see how they’ve been supporting students through distance learning during the covid-19 restrictions. Here’s an update from the Somerdale Educate Together Primary School,  the second Educate Together school to be established in England.”

Read their story here

A day in the life of Sandymount Park ETSS

“It’s probably safe to say that students, parents and teachers would jump at a chance to return to ‘real’ school but despite the many challenges there have been positives. The strength of our new school community has never been more obvious. Parents/guardians working hard to support their child and our school. Students showing themselves to be resourceful, creative, hard working and good humoured. Staff going above and beyond, collaborating to enhance remote teaching, learning and support to improve student outcomes.

Here’s an update from the principal, staff and students of Sandymount Park ETSS, on how the community has adapted to the covid-19 restrictions.

Read their story here

A day in the life of Hansfield ETSS

Our students come from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, some who may find it difficult to cope during the COVID-19 related stay at home orders. Being mindful of these challenges, the PE Department’s website features a range of resources from developing sports related skills and staying fit to exploring other wellness related pursuits such as dancing, yoga and mindfulness.”

Here’s an update from the principal, staff and students of Hansfield ETSS, on how the community has adapted to the covid-19 restrictions.

Read their story here

A day in the life of Dublin North East ETSS

“Students are doing their best but they are lacking social interactions which form part of their young adult development and with the increasing likelihood that we won’t return to school this academic year, never has resilience and self-compassion been more important.”

Here’s an update from principal Ashling Kenevey, and the teachers and students of Dublin North East ETSS, on how the school community has adapted to the covid-19 restrictions.

Read their story here

A day in the life of ETSS Wicklow

“We have learned to be more adaptable and get our work done as well as we would if we were in a classroom with a teacher. If this had happened 30 years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to continue our learning to the extent that we can today. While it’s incredible to think we will now be part of something momentous in history and will one day tell the story to future generations, I think we will all be excited to get into a real classroom instead of a virtual one as soon as possible.”

The First Year students of ETSS Wicklow and their principal Colm Kehoe write about how their school has moved learning online during the covid-19 restrictions.

Read their story here

Fionnuala’s story: should students protest?

“Primary school pupils in Donabate and Portrane ETNS said enough was enough. They were fed up with learning about Climate Change (and for the uninitiated, it is on the primary school curriculum) and not having some kind of say in the matter. They were fed up with analysing this issue – an issue that presents an apocalyptic threat to their future existence – and then being expected to close their books and move away from their devices and begin work on another subject. After all, isn’t our education system supposed to be better than this?”

Fionnuala Ward, Educate Together’s Primary Education Officer, reflects on student leadership in the #SchoolStrike4Climate movement. Read Fionnuala’s story here

Suzanne’s story: Educate Together: a parent’s perspective

“For me Educate Together is not so much about diversity of race or religion, while these are certainly important issues. For me it is more about an appreciation of all of our differences in whatever form they take.  It is about teaching our children to appreciate these differences and showing them how such an appreciation can enrich their lives, and in so doing allow them the space to relax into their own unique expression of what it is to be human, and to feel supported in developing their full potential without the fear of being different.”

Suzanne Dorrian on why the Educate Together ethos is so important to her and her family. Read Suzanne’s story here

Hilary’s story: addressing LGBT issues in primary school

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Acknowledging and celebrating different families is crucial to making all children feel part of the school and wider community, and to enable them to learn how to value and respect those who are different. This includes stocking library books which feature different families units, using stories as a springboard for discussion and debate, thinking time, drama, video-making, art, music, history and geography.

Read Hilary’s story here

Parents, teachers and alumni share their stories

The ‘banning’ of Christmas and Halloween, the prohibition of the greeting ‘Dia dhuit’ (the Irish language equivalent to ‘hello’ which happens to mean ‘God be with you’) and forbidding the celebration of role of grandparents – just some of the myths about Educate Together schools put into the public domain recently. Who better to counter misinformation and myths about the equality-based school community than parents, teachers and ex-pupils of our network? Thanks so much for your support!

Read their stories here

Jean’s story: teaching ethical education at second-level

“Starting out in September, I did what so many of us do nowadays and I turned to Google. What would teaching Ethical Education entail? What was Ethics? In the words of Potter Stewart – “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is right to do.” Could we help our students to see that just because they could – didn’t mean that they should?”

Teacher Jean Ryan of Ballymakenny College reflects on her first year teaching Ethical Education. Read Jean’s story here

Orla’s story: our Educate Together school campaign came from the heart

“I had the privilege of chairing the local parent-led campaign for a new Educate Together national school for Cork South City. Time and again I was struck by the stories: Parents desperate for a place for their child in a school that would reflect their family, where their child would not be excluded, where they would experience freedom of conscience.”

Orla Burke reflects on experience in advocating for an equality-based school for her family and her community. Read Orla’s story here

A teacher’s story: why I love teaching in an Educate Together second-level school

“I have had the pleasure of teaching in a second-level Educate Together school for the past three years. The ethos of ‘no child an outsider’ allows me to teach in a variety of creative ways which is inclusive of all abilities. The relationship or bond between teachers and students is formed on a basis of respect. Give respect get respect. Students call me by my first name which I believe creates a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.”

Aine’s story: 40 years of equality-based education

2018 saw the 40th anniversary of the opening of what would become the first Educate Together primary school in Ireland. In 1978, Dalkey School Project opened in a residential house. This pioneering new school would go on to be the first of a true alternative to the monopoly of religious-run schools in Ireland. Áine Hyland, one of the founder members of Educate Together, reflects on 40 years of equality-based education in Ireland.”

Watch Áine’s story here

The Story of the Dalkey School Project

‘The Story of the Dalkey School Project’ is a radio documentary which was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and produced by Aileen O’Mara. It tells the story of how the first Educate Together school in Ireland, the Dalkey School Project National School or DSPNS, came to be.

Cecelia’s story: a school where LGBT is part of everyday life

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There is no big deal about the LGBT issue at the school. It is, according to learning support teacher, Cecelia Gavigan, simply part of their commitment to the idea of respect and human rights for all. “Everything we do around LGBT is set within a broader framework of equality and justice. It is very much part of school life and not just something that is achieved in a single initiative.”

Read Hilary’s story on independent.ie here

Video: Equality in Educate Together Secondary Schools

Every Educate Together secondary school is equality-based. We asked students at Educate Together secondary school what this means to them:

Watch the video here

Laura’s story: one year on – reflecting on 5 new Educate Together second-level schools

“At North Wicklow ETSS, students and staff celebrated their inquiry based learning by hosting a World Café and showcase of learning in the area of Education for Sustainability. Over 100 guests attended and were treated to the culinary creations of the students who used ingredients they had grown and foraged as well as produce donated by local supermarkets which otherwise would have been thrown out! It was fantastic to see the students acting as advocates for sustainable practice and encouraging members of the community to become involved.”

Laura Dooley is Educate Together’s Second-level Education Officer. Read Laura’s piece on second-level education here

Sandra’s story: real democracy in action in Educate Together schools

“School Boardrooms are not the only places where democracy in action gets to flourish, sometimes the places that matter most to children are the places they play and gather. One such example is where children from Bray School Project planned and designed their school yard in some cases against a backdrop of shaking heads and mutterings from staff members. The children prevailed and the result was the transformation of an expanse of yard where collisions and falls were once common to a space that had places to sit, hang out and gather that the children now felt a real ownership of.”

Sandra Irwin-Gowran, Educate Together’s Education & Support Programme Manager, reflects on the democratic nature of Educate Together schools. Read Sandra’s story here

Dominic’s TEDx story: how I defined myself at 15

Dominic Newman, a student at Stepaside Educate Together SS, was born in South Africa strongly believes the ‘Ubuntu’ culture of South Africa has helped mould him into who he is today.

Watch Dominic’s TEDx talk here