Delegates at the first in-person conference of Community National School (CNS) Principals in Ireland held last week heard new research which shows that most Irish adults (61%) show a preference for multi-denominational education, with only 9% showing a preference for a religious body to provide education.
The research, carried out with a representative sample of 1,011 adults in the Rep. of Ireland by Opinions, also shows that the CNS model, provided by Ireland’s Education & Training Boards (ETBs), including Louth & Meath ETB, is associated with key aspects that influence parents of primary school going children when deciding where to send them to school. These include being co-educational, multi-denominational, having an inclusive ethos in admissions and providing for children with special needs.
Fiona Kindlon, Director of Schools in Louth and Meath ETB, said that:
“We in LMETB are delighted to meet with Community National School principals from our own and other ETBs at this conference. This professional learning opportunity is just one example of the many supports ETBs offer schools under their patronage. In LMETB we currently have 4 Community National Schools. We are proud to have supported 1 of these schools through a transfer of patronage process. We look forward to seeing this number increase through the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity Process over the coming years.”
Delegates heard from Principals that a multi-denominational, equality-based ethos as well as a multi-belief and values curriculum, instead of a faith formation curriculum in one religion, were key in attracting new and existing primary schools to become Community National Schools.
ETBI Director of Schools Dr Seamus Conboy added:
“The research by Opinions clearly shows the attractiveness of the Community National School offering to both a general sample of Irish adults and to those specifically with children of primary school going age. Indeed, my own research suggests that the CNS ethos enables teachers and school leaders to respond appropriately to diversity within the school community.”
Conference delegates also heard from academics and education specialists including keynote speaker, Professor Patricia Mannix-McNamara, Head of the School of Education at the University of Limerick, over the two-day conference which ran in Athlone from 25th – 26th May.