Educate Together 'needs own secondary schools'
THE multi-denominational Educate Together says there is a need for a brand new type of second-level school to cater for the growing number of pupils coming out of their primary schools.
The vast majority of parents of children in Educate Together primary schools want them to continue their second-level education in the same ethos, research has shown.
Educate Together's long-running campaign for recognition as a second-level patron yielded limited results this week with a proposal that it share control of a new school in Co Dublin.
Education Minister Mary Coughlan said she favoured joint patronage between Educate Together and County Dublin Vocational Education Committee (CDVEC) for a school in Clonburris, Lucan.
Educate Together has reacted with caution and said yesterday they it was only interested if it is a "brand new type" of second-level school that delivers its specific ethos.
Its blueprint for child-centred education at second-level has received widespread acclaim, but some aspects of the organisation's thinking on education is at variance with existing practice or policy.
For instance, Educate Together does not believe that pupils should automatically be entered for the Junior Cert, because it locks teachers and learners into "preparing for the test".
The joint patronage idea for Lucan was included in an announcement by Education Minister Mary Coughlan for a new advisory body to establish a framework for processing applications for recognition to open a second-level school.
The Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA), whose member VECS run 250 second-level schools, has welcomed the joint patronage idea, and said that they offer a similar, multi-denominational model of education.
But Labour Education spokesperson Ruari Quinn claims that the joint patronage proposal is intended to prevent Educate Together gaining a foothold at second-level at the expense of the VECs.
Educate Together is a growing force in Irish education, as patron of a small but increasing number of primary schools and, more recently, applications for recognition to open second-level schools, both in Lucan, where it has five primary schools, and in Gorey, Co Wexford.
A survey of pupils leaving Educate Together primary schools in June 2008, published yesterday, found that parents tried to send them to schools that best matched their ethos, with a preference for co-education. Previous research by Trinity College, Dublin, found that 90pc of parents would prefer to send their children to an Educate Together second-level school.
Speaking at the launch of the survey, Educate Together chief executive Paul Rowe said the prospect of 67 new second-level schools in Ireland in the next 15 years provided tremendous opportunity for change.
He welcomed the transparency offered in the minster's patronage framework initiative and said he looked forward to it "green lighting" applications from Educate Together.