Saturday 25 March 2017

Ethos determines the approach to religious and ethics teaching

Primary schooling in Ireland is organised along religious lines. About 95pc of schools are under denominational control, overwhelmingly Catholic (90pc)
Primary schooling in Ireland is organised along religious lines. About 95pc of schools are under denominational control, overwhelmingly Catholic (90pc)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The time allocation for religious education, which may include ethics, in primary schools is 30 minutes a day.

This accounts for 10pc of the school week, more than double the international average, and is the second highest allocation for religion anywhere in the developed world, apart from Israel.

Primary schooling in Ireland is organised along religious lines. About 95pc of schools are under denominational control, overwhelmingly Catholic (90pc).

Patrons are responsible for devising their own religious programmes which they use to underpin their ethos.

There is a small and growing multi-denominational sector, predominantly Educate Together, and increasingly more Community National Schools, operated by local education and training boards (ETBs).

NCCA research on the education about religious beliefs (ERB) and ethics content of programmes found different approaches. None matches what the NCCA envisages.

Denominational programmes provide faith-based, religious education.

Teaching about other religions and beliefs may be an aspect of the programme but it is not intended to be the central focus.

Inter-denominational schools, under joint patronage, and, in some cases, under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta, offer religious education for more than one denomination.

In the multi-denominational sector, Educate Together provides a rights-based ethics programme and does not provide for belief-specific education during the school day.

Community National Schools have a multi-belief programme, including a core programme for use with all children, and a belief-specific programme for between three and four weeks of the year.

The NCCA found variation in the amount and quality of provision of ethics in denominational programmes, and said the multi-denominational approach had much to offer a national curriculum.

Irish Independent

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