Pioneering democracy in education: A podcast recommendation

Susana Núñez, Education Officer (Second-level) 

Who does not appreciate a fantastic podcast recommendation? It gets even better when the podcast in question illuminates the pioneering role that Educate Together has played in advancing democracy within the realm of education. 

Educate Together takes profound pride in its rich history and pivotal position in the Irish education landscape. For over four decades, we have been at the forefront of advocating for equality in education for children and young people in Ireland. Our remarkable journey began with the establishment of the Dalkey School Project National School in 1978, and ever since, we have continued to pave the way for inspirational democratic and inclusive schools. 

This episode of the “Hedge Schools Beyond the Shrubbery” podcast delves into the expansion of Educate Together schools and Gaelscoileanna across Ireland. Writer and broadcaster Berni Dwan engages in a profound conversation with Professor Áine Hyland, one of the visionary founders of the Dalkey School Project, and Seán Ó hArgáin, recently retired Primary Gaelscoil Principal, about how Educate Together schools and Gaelscoileanna emerged as a response to perceived shortcomings in the education system and a commitment to preserving specific cultural or religious freedoms. 

Áine takes us on a journey into the philosophical foundations of Educate Together, passionately emphasising the vision of creating schools where every child is equally welcomed. She underscores the culture of inclusivity that forms the core of all Educate Together schools, highlighting the pivotal role of democracy in school governance. During those times, the concept of democracy was still in its infancy within the educational landscape. As the Dalkey School Project (DSP) embarked on its mission, the notion of school boards of management (BoM) had not yet materialised; in fact, BoMs (Boards of Management) were not established until the subsequent year. It was a period of evolution and transformation and the idea of democracy, particularly in this educational context, was a relatively new and evolving concept during that time.  

You can access this episode below and on the history of Educate Together section of our website. The “Hedge Schools Beyond the Shrubbery” podcast can be found here.

The eight-part history of education series called Hedge Schools Beyond the Shrubbery was devised, produced and presented by Berni Dwan. It was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (now called Coimisiún na Meán) and first broadcast on Near FM 90.3 in August 2023.