Pluralism and Patronage Report

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The report from the forum on patronage and pluralism in the primary sector published its findings today. It was interesting to see the media’s take on the findings.

The Irish Independent focused mainly on how sacrament preparation would be removed from the school day in all schools, mentioning this in all its articles. They also warned of the possible challenges ahead such as parents deciding on new patron bodies.

The Examiner also headlines with the removal of sacraments from the school day but outlines other key points in its article:

  • Changes to education law to place responsibility on school boards to uphold the rights of children and parents with regard to denominational religious education and faith formation;
  • Consideration to amend equality law that allows a school give preference to children of a particular faith, or refuse enrolment to those who do not belong to the school’s denomination;
  • Removal of a rule that refers to religion as the most important subject in the primary school curriculum;
  • Schools helping to accommodate children opting out of denominational religious teaching or faith formation;

The Irish Times speaks of the changeover as an historic occasion and it was difficult not to see that they are not on the fence on the issue. However they did welcome the slower pace of change rather than the “big bang” approach that would be exceptionally difficult to implement.

Sacrament preparation is going to be a big game changer in primary schools. It will be interesting to see how this alone will be managed. It also looks like setting up a religious symbol shop will be a clever move for entrepreneurs out there as schools will have to display lots of different faiths’ artefacts in all schools around the country. Β Overall, it looks like changes are coming and not only will parents’ views be highly important in this change, schools are going to have to change their culture in a big way. This may prove to be more of an issue than expected.

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