‘Little Or No Choice’



In Ireland 89% of primary schools are run by the Catholic Church.

Eighty nine per cent.

A new church-commissioned report called Catholic Primary Schools in a Changing Ireland acknowledges some parents have “little or no choice but to send their child to a Catholic school”.

The document  states the church recognises the right of parents to opt out of religious instruction for their children.

But adds:  “the manner in which schools do this is subject to available resources”.

The report says schools should not exceed the 2.5 hours allowed weekly for religious education. It says schools should make clear to parents upon enrolment what being a Catholic school means. They should include information on the school’s religious education programme as well as procedures in dealing with parents who do not want their children to participate in religious education.
However, the document does not advise schools as to what procedures should be put in place, apart from outlining options they “may” wish to implement.

Good times.

Catholic Primary Schools in a changing Ireland – Sharing Good Practice on Inclusion of All Pupils (PDF)

Catholic Church publishes guidelines for inclusion of non-Catholics in its schools (RTÉ)

44 thoughts on “‘Little Or No Choice’

  1. newsjustin

    What’s the significance of the text in bold? The report offers suggestions for ways in which those children of parents who want to opt-out of religious education in RC primary schools might be accommodated. It would be strange if the report mandated a single solution to be applied in all schools.

    1. Sinabhfuil

      Just speaking personally, I’d like us to follow the French and introduce laïcité, separating Church and State utterly in all official capacities, but most especially in schools.

    1. ollie

      The state dumping education of children on to religious organisations was a scandal; implemented, supported and underfunded by ff and fg.

      before you express your dissatisfaction, find out why this situation was allowed.

      1. Sam

        The state dumping education on religious institutions? Really, and if the churches were so reluctant to do it, and preferred that we all had a state provided secular education, why were they so hostile to anyone who considered sending their kids to a multi-denominational school? They were fanatics, they feared the notion of people getting an education not grounded in the dogma of the church.

        This smacks of the oppressor playing the victim card and revising history. – the poor people-ridden priests.

        Even in recent years I’ve heard church spokesmen say they’d prefer a mosque to a secular school and opposed the idea of Educate Together having a secondary school. Let’s not pretend this shower are in favour of diversity. The old habits die hard, and they’re a bit more welcoming because it has been forced upon them by demographics.

    2. Anomanomanom

      Really!! Do you know the difference between religious education and religious conscription.

        1. Sam

          I’d like it to be really optional. As in, all those who wish to attend religious education, go to room 5, rather than the other way around, where those who want to stand out, go sit in the library or a canteen.
          Anyone who knows anything about peer pressure knows that kids don’t want to be the odd one out.

          1. Sam

            I wouldn’t expect it. I’d like it… And I’d prefer if ‘Roman Catholic’ schools was just a fee paying private school rather than the default option for many due to the lack of choice.

          2. Janet

            Here here, my parents wanted me included. School refused on grounds ” might ask questions ” being singled out, not a great move for inclusion

  2. Stewart Curry

    Note that the priority for places in most Catholic schools goes something like:

    1 – Siblings of existing/past pupils
    2 – Catholic children in local area
    3 – Catholic children in nearby area
    4 – Other christian flavours in the area
    5 – Everyone else in the local area

    So the odds of non-religious children getting into schools in the first place isn’t great

    1. newsjustin

      Most catholic schools have no pressure on places/numbers. Quite a few rural schools struggle to keep their numbers up. So in most schools, these priority rules are never applied and there’s a mix of religious and non-religious pupils.

        1. newsjustin

          I have no doubt there is a shortage in some places. In other places there’s actually a surplus of places. I have no doubt, also, that it would be better for class sizes to be reduced. But my point was (and it still stands) that relatively few schools are actually forced to scrutinise applicants using such hierarchies, because they aren’t overly subscribed.

  3. gallantman

    An organisation whose members perpetrated countless physical and sexual abuse of children for decades and whose leadership then denied it and attempted to systematically cover it up is running of 90% OF CHILDREN’S SCHOOLS. Just to set some context there.

    1. ollie

      2% of child abuse carried out by church, other 97% by??? politicians, judges, gardai, lay teachers? ????

  4. Black & White

    2.5 hours per week religious education ?? In my experience it’s way more than that, particularly if a child is in a class doing communion or confirmation.

    1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

      Bandon Grammar is Protestant, and Midleton College. I can’t think of any others in Cork, which is the only place that matters, obvs.

      1. Frilly Keane

        Scoil Mhuire, Pres and Christians were fee paying in my day.

        And boarding: is Farranferris still going? I know Youghal is now a hotel or sum’ting and Rochestown is long gone.

        1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

          I meant fee-paying Protestant schools.
          I went to SM. Pure posh, like. That was back when it was sh*t cheap to go there: I don’t think it is anymore.

    1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

      Church of Ireland is Anglican, which is the most RCish of the Protestant churches, I think.

      1. pauly

        technically its a catholic church just not a roman catholic one. i converted myself a while back after i went to a COI funeral. The female vicar in st philips on south side was a babe. First time ever i’ve has an erection at a funeral. knew then i’d saw the light

  5. Bort

    Genuine Question: How tough is it for a non Catholic teacher to get a teaching job at a Catholic school? In only my anecdotal experienced most of the primary school teachers I know are daycent, God fearin, GAA jersey wearin, sh1t-kickin, mass going, semi practicing Catholics. Is there much preachin in St. Pat’s and Mary Immaculate?

  6. shitferbrains

    So despite protestations to the contrary Ireland actually is a Catholic country. Has to be if the ethos is so overwhelmingly RC.

    1. Malta

      I believe an ombudsman (for children?) is planning on looking into it, possibly when x happens
      x= some report (this report?) is published, or some other issue I’d resolved.
      Sorry for lack of facts, I did read something about it, but all I took from it, it seems, it’s that someone is going to look into it soon-ish

    2. DoM

      There’s a department of education policy (well, Ruairí Quinn policy – I dunno if it’s ongoing still) to reduce the proportion of schools that are religious. Most new schools now are Educate Together [citation needed…].

      Not going nearly fast enough for me, but it’s happening bit by bit.

      1. chippengael

        Hmm…so it is being driven within the Dept. of Education, and now that Quinn is gone, I’d say they’ll put that one on the long finger. For such an emotive subject, it seems strange to me that there is no public campaign calling for changes in patronage, or even curriculum. I suppose we must all be be thrilled that our little ones are being indoctrinated into a religion the vast majority of whom won’t actually practice, while at the same time being forced to learn Irish, a language the vast majority of whom won’t actually speak. Good times as the fella sez…

Comments are closed.