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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:01 am
by Cato
I posted this earlier on;

Reform of Religious Education in Primary Schools

The advisory group of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, FPP, issued an interim report today and held it’s last public session in order to share their reflections on the issue with the key stakeholders, other interested parties, and the general public.

On the whole, listening to the responses from the stakeholders and other interested parties, the response seems to be positive, although nearly every group had some issues of concern.

The advisory group is made up of Professer John Coolahan, Fionnuala Kilfeather and Dr. Caroline Hussey.

The thirteen main stakeholders, besides the Department of Education and Skills, involved in the Working Session of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector are as follows:

Association of Trustees of Catholic Schools
Catholic Primary Schools Management Association
Educate Together
Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaelige Teoranta
Gaelscoileanna Teoranta
Irish National Teachers' Organisation
Irish Primary Principals' Network
Irish Vocational Education Association
National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education
National Parents Council – Primary
The Board of Education of the Church of Ireland
The Council for Education of the Irish Episcopal Conference
The Islamic Foundation of Ireland

The other interested parties included the Humanist Association of Ireland, Atheist Ireland and some community groups who are working on establishing new schools.

There have been a few reports from the media;

Patronage forum presents findings - The Irish Times - Thu, Nov 17, 2011
The feasibility of transferring over 250 Catholic primary schools to new patrons is to be examined as part of the new drive to boost diversity in schools.

The Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in primary schools is also recommending that a special questionnaire should be used to canvass the views of parents in these areas; this will be prepared by the Department in consultation with the main education partners.

The group - in its interim report - stresses the value of a ‘rolling plan’ of incremental change. It concludes that a “Big Bang”, or a radical upheaval is not the best option.

The group - established by Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn - says the first phase in divesting schools should involve 258 schools in 18 dioceses across 47 areas. These are areas, identified by the Department of Education at the request of the bishops where “there is a need for divesting to allow for diversity of schools".

Prof Coolahan said modifications are being suggested which should help schools to cater for pupils of all belief systems other than that of the majority of pupils. Changes to the "Rules for National Schools" and curricular guidelines are being proposed.
Call for abolition of school religion rule - RT News
The Forum on Patronage and Pluralism has recommended that a controversial rule governing Primary School education in Ireland be abolished.

The forum has been presenting its interim findings today and will send a final report to the Minister for Education by the end of the year.

Rule 68 states that "of all the parts of a school curriculum, Religious Instruction is by far the most important".

It goes on to describe Religious Instruction as a fundamental part of the school course that "should inform and vivify the whole work of the school".

It also states that the primary duty of an educator includes habituating a pupil to observe God's laws.

The General Secretary of the Department of Education, Brigid McManus, told the forum that her department would support the removal of this rule. ... &doc=55605
As many schools, particularly in rural Ireland, are "stand alone" schools, with no other choice of school nearby, particular attention is being paid to how they can be more inclusive and respect the Constitutional rights of all pupils. Modifications are being suggested which should help schools to cater for pupils of all belief systems other than that of the majority of pupils. Changes to the "Rules for National Schools" and curricular guidelines are being proposed.

Professor Coolahan continued: "Many of the issues involved are interconnected, and, while complex, good will, quality information, a sense of trust and a concern for the common good of a changing Irish society will go a long way to achieving greater school diversity, which all parties have agreed is necessary.

"I hope that this report will provide worthwhile advice and guidance towards practical solutions on diversity in the context of patronage in the primary school sector," concluded Professor Coolahan.
Professor Coolahan recounted that while interviewing 86 children from non-Catholic backgrounds about their experiences in Catholic ethos schools he had come across some cases were the children had been “almost depressed and suicidal because of their experience.”

He said that other children had reported having a sense of exclusion and that this had effected them.

Several of the parties responding to the advisory group said that they still had human rights concerns after listening to the interim report and that these would have to be addressed. These included, one group claimed, the right not to be forced to make your religious beliefs known in public and they claimed that non-Catholic children in Rc ethos schools were forced to do that.

Several Catholic commentators, including David Quinn, have indicated some unhappiness with the direction the group is heading in claiming that it seems as if they want to impose an ‘Educate Together’ model on all schools. Quinn questioned whether or not this would injure the separation of church and state.

They seem to be moving towards a model where all religious ethos schools will have to confine religious education to certain times of the day and will have to have proper accommodation for students who opt out of religious education. However, they seemed to indicate that comparative religious studies should form a part of everyone’s education and that students should learn about the other religions and beliefs. They also recommended that emblems of all belief systems of the children in the school should be displayed.

In my own view, it does seem that the report is going to recommend dropping Rule 68 and that the Department of Education is happy with that. This is significant. As too is the recommendation that teacher training be reformed and that non-religiously controlled teacher colleges be established (I though that there already was one) and that compulsory Ethics, Morals & Religious education programmes be put in place in teacher education colleges, which would include ethics etc. other than those of the core ethos of the college. The recommendations on pluralism are welcome as is the need to properly accommodate children who do not wish to receive religious education.

The group seems to be moving in the right direction, even if they will not go as far as I would like. The forces of reaction are likely to kick in, but we have the right Minister for Education in place this time around (his odd ‘aggressive atheist’ comments of the other night aside).

Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:58 pm
by mkaobrih
Recordings of the forum are released ... anguage=EN

Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:18 am
by mkaobrih
Article in the examiner
Schools’ Catholic ethos open to challenge ... 84249.html
By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Schools which do not accommodate Muslim students in a system dominated by Church control remain open to legal challenges despite moves towards reforms, a legal expert has warned.

There have been few legal challenges to school policies in relation to enrolment or accommodating religious practices of Muslims. Claire Hogan, a barrister, says this is largely because of compromises reached in schools where issues have arisen.

She examined the issue from a legal perspective in a doctoral thesis that also looked at freedom of religion in employment and healthcare.

In a research paper to be discussed at a conference on Islam in Ireland at University College Cork today, Ms Hogan says the Catholic monopoly of schools should not be allowed to continue.

About 96% of the country’s 3,200 primary schools are in denominational control, including 89% which are Catholic.

Although Ruairi Quinn, the education minister, is set to regulate school enrolment polices, Ms Hogan said the pace of change is slow.

The Forum of Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector, whose report is being finalised, is expected to recommend how the transfer of control of some Catholic schools might take place. It is also likely to suggest improvements in the way schools cater for non-Catholic pupils at times of religion class or preparation for sacraments.

While some Catholic bishops are opening up to the possibility of making schools available in urban areas where there is demand for alternative provision, Ms Hogan said difficulties will remain in small towns and parishes where the one or two schools remain Cath-olic. She said the integrated curriculum in Catholic schools that means Church teaching permeates the entire school day is one of the main barriers to accommodating Islamic children.

"Although the Catholic ethos in schools seems not to preclude the accommodation of Islam in practice, the potential for limited or no accommodation exists. There is ample legal scope for schools to decide that a particular Islamic requirement does not cohere with the prevailing ethos, and so to ban it," she says in her research paper.

"The fact that the integrated curriculum operates in almost 90% of schools, which are state-financed, renders Ireland’s education system extremely vulnerable to challenge."

Previous studies have quoted Muslim students and their parents complaining about tensions with Catholic schools over issues such as wearing head scarves and setting aside time or space for Muslim prayer.

Another issue is that rights must also be protected of parents who still want their children taught in a Catholic or denominational ethos.

Ms Hogan said it is unlikely the ethos of the school will be compromised by the admission of a small number of children of minority faiths. However, she said that equality law still allows a school to refuse enrolment if it feels doing so is essential to maintain its ethos.

Read more: ... z1miAKUJ1l

Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:03 pm
by Marks
We have been in touch with Claire and have her research. Last week we sent this published research to the Council of Europe Advisory Committee under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. We also sent Alison Mawhinney's research - The Irish Primary School system : A Failure to Protect Human Rights and Eoin Daly's - Religious Freedom and the Denominational Model in the Republic of Ireland. In addition we sent Daly's and Hickeys recent research - Religious Freedom and the Right to Discriminate in the school admissions context.

I have Claire's permission to use her research in any of our Submissions to the UN, EU, Council of Europe or the Government.

Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:05 pm
by paolovf
I've met Claire, I'm actually good friends with her brother.

I'm glad we've made contact with her because she'll very good contact to have.

Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:04 pm
by Basicilly

I'm a first time poster and am wondering if someone can help me. My partner is 26 weeks pregnant and we are looking at the possibiities for schools. As with many others i was shocked and appalled when i learned of the status quo where the constitution and equality acts seem at odds to say the least. The results of the patronage forum are really great and mean we will not be put into a position where we have to decide betwen a christening and the quality of education our child will receive. We have one concern that i was hoping someone could help with. Are there currently any estimates to how long this process will take to begin or when the next update from Ruari Quinn will be.

I'm just wondering if there will be a reasonable number of non denominational schools by trhe time our child is 4,


Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:11 am
by Puck
I'm sorry to disappoint you.

It depends on what you consider 'a reasonable number' and what sort of priority the Government assigns to it. I'm fairly sure nobody here knows the Government's agenda. I suggest you write a letter to Mr Quinn for a definitive answer.

I've got money on: Sometime after the introduction of Post Codes and shortly before the Referendum for Constitutional change to protect our children.

A bit of interesting news, at least in Kerry. During negotiations with the local headmaster to allow our child to leave the classroom during Hawaii 5-O (what I call Alive-O) program, he revealed that the Catholic church are internally assessing the primary schools to determine which ones they could possibly hand over patronage.

Do I think this will speed up the transfer of patronage? Not at all.

The fact you are looking at school availability, before your egg has hatched, is an indication of the society that successive Governments have crafted and the Catholic Church has manipulated.

I recommend that instead of worrying about schools, enjoy and treasure this time with your partner.

Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:32 pm
by Basicilly
Cheers Puck. Its a pretty shabby state of affairs alright. You're right about cherishing this wonderful time together which we are really enjoying. The reason we have been discussing school so early is that my partner would like to christen our child solely for the educational benifits but i am struggling to reconcile myself with this. It seems from looking around that to provide a child with a good education in this country a christening may be the only course of action which is disheartening to say the least.

I presume many others have faced this dilema. Have people opted for the educate together schools or the few non catholic places available in schools or just gone for the christening route for the sake of the child.

Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:44 pm
by HarryO'Criosna
Bas, my kids are at a 'catholic' school and they're not baptised, it was never an issue. We didn't hide it or anything, it asked what religion on the application form and we put 'none'. They (along with the other heathens) draw pictures or read books while the rest of them do the religion stuff. We're not too bothered with taking them out of the room or anything at those times, and there doesn't seem to be any holiness rubbing off on them.

I wouldn't count on things changing in the next 4 years, plus depending on where you live you'll need to put the baba's name on the list well before that. We just chose a primary school based on the secondary we wanted them to go to (there's a feeder system there) and took our chances.

Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:02 pm
by mkaobrih
Basicilly wrote: Have people opted for the educate together schools or the few non catholic places available in schools or just gone for the christening route for the sake of the child.
I think you'll find parents here in each one of those categories - mine are in educate together.