Tuesday 20 March 2018

Labour to promise 100 non-faith schools

Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton. Photo: Arthur Carron
Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton. Photo: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The Labour Party wants to see the number of non-denominational schools doubled during the lifetime of the next government.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said children should be able to attend their "local school" but an "inadequate" number of schools were built during the recession.

The Irish Independent previously revealed the Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan is working on changes to the Equal Status Act which currently allows schools to give priority to children based on their religion.

Around nine out of 10 schools in Ireland are still under the patronage of the Catholic Church.

But as part of their election manifesto Labour will promise to end the so-called 'baptism barrier' to admission.

And Ms Burton has now said that they will commit to building 100 new schools that will operate in the same manner as non-denominational Educate Together schools.

"In this particular term of government, we have seen 100 Educate Together schools now open.

"We hope to see at least another 100 during the term of the next government, again depending on parental demand," she said, adding that they have to look "at any social population factors" that result in children being excluded from their local school.

Ms Burton said she wants to bring together parents groups and different patron bodies to take part in a forum aimed at devising a new admission system for schools.

"Any changes that will be required to provide for greater diversity and enabling children to go their local school - including a faith school - should be addressed, because it is distressing for parents to feel that their child in some way or another may not be included in local school provision."

Ms Burton also said she doesn't believe many schools consider religion as "the primary topic".

"I think that religion in faith schools obviously has a very important place but it isn't necessarily the dominant item in the school," she said.

Irish Independent

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