Logo of Educate Together
|Registration No.||CHY 11816|
|Key people||Paul Rowe (CEO), Diarmaid Mac Aonghusa (Chair)|
|Service(s)||Primary Education, Secondary Education, Teacher Training, Advocacy|
|Mission||To ensure that parents have the choice of an education based on the inclusive intercultural values of respect for difference and justice and equality for all.|
|Motto||Learn Together to Live Together|
Educate Together is an educational charity in the Republic of Ireland which is the patron body to multidenominational, coeducational schools. It was founded in 1984 to act as the patron body for the new multidenominational schools that opened after the successful establishment of the Dalkey School Project. Educate Together is now the patron of 68 national schools in the Republic of Ireland. In 2014 three Educate Together Second Level Schools will open in Blanchardstown, Drogheda and Lucan.
Educate Together has its roots in the Dalkey School Project founded in 1975. Before multi-denominational education, some of those involved in education in Ireland, such as Aine Hyland, Michael Johnston and Florrie Armstrong, questioned the denominational nature of the system and the need to have students of different faiths in different schools. This committed group of educationalists and parents established the organisation with the stated aim: “To develop and support in Ireland the establishment of schools which are multi-denominational (i.e. with equal right of access for the children of Catholic, Protestant and other parents, and with the cultural and social background of each child held in equal respect), co-educational and managed under a system which is predominantly democratic in character, wherever and whenever there is viable local support for such a school.”
The organisers of the school met opposition from a conservative Catholic group that circulated a leaflet in the Dalkey area alleging that the new school was "atheistic", "divisive", "hostile to religion" and "a precedent for major trouble in other areas".
Even today, the majority of primary schools in the Republic of Ireland are owned by religious communities (or boards of governors). Of the 3,200 primary schools in Ireland, only 2% are multidenominational.
Teaching of Atheism
In 2011 Fionnuala Ward the Primary Education Officer for Educate together wrote in the INTO (Teachers Union) monthly newsletter InTouch about teaching Atheism to educate together pupils, and the challenges about presenting Atheism to children. Atheism Ireland and the Irish Humanist Association strongly support Educate Together.
Dalkey School Project
By 1984 two other multi-denominational schools had been started and Educate Together was established as a co-ordinating umbrella body. The organisation became a company limited by guarantee in 1998 and from the year 2000, all new Educate Together schools operate with the patronage of the national company. Educate Together has charitable status in Ireland.
The number of schools run by the organisation has grown: in 2007 it was 40, in 2008 it was 44 and today it is 68. Three new primary schools opened in Portobello, Firhouse and Rochestown in September 2013.
Educate Together schools guarantee equality of access and esteem to children irrespective of their social, cultural or religious background. Educate Together schools are learner centred in their approach to education and are run as participatory democracies, with partnership between parents, pupils and teachers.
Learn Together Curriculum
Educate Together schools teach the Irish Primary School Curriculum, which includes 30 minutes a day to be spent on faith formation. In an Educate Together school this time is spent teaching their Learn Together Ethical Education Curriculum rather than the religious instructions programmes taught in denominational schools. There are four strands to this programme.
- Moral and Spiritual: children learn about feelings and values, the development of conscience, choices and consequences, stillness and meditation.
- Equality and Justice: children learn about wants and needs, rights and responsibilities; the promotion of equality and the nature of democracy locally (student councils are encouraged), nationally and globally.
- Belief Systems: children learn about the rites and ceremonies, celebrations, key figure and beliefs and values of the six main world religions: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism. Schools also address Atheism, Agnosticism and Humanism.
- Ethics and the Environment: children learn about appreciation and stewardship of the natural world. Educate Together schools have an ethos of respect, diversity & inclusion.
Educate Together second-level schools aim not to 'teach to the test' but to instead develop their students' skills in creative and critical thinking, communication, teamwork, research and leadership.
Educate Together first applied to be patron of a new second-level school to be opened in Lucan in 2008, but patronage was awarded to County Dublin Vocational Education Committee. This decision was reviewed in 2010 and the then Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, invited Educate Together to enter into discussion with CoDubVEC on the joint management of the school. The school will open as a joint venture in September 2014.
Educate Together was also involved in the public consultation pilot scheme the Department of Education and Skills initiated to award patronage of the new second level school planned for Gorey, Co Wexford. Following a successful submission to the Department, local parent preferences were invited through a Departmental survey and though Educate Together received 957 preferences, patronage was awarded to Co Wexford VEC which scored 1,900.
 Research published by Trinity College in 2008 showed that 90 per cent of parents who sent their children to an Educate Together school would send their children to a secondary school based on the same model if it was available. In January 2011 the Department of Education and Skills published its plans to build post-primary schools in nine new areas between 2012 and 2016. Educate Together applied for patronage of five second-sevel schools in these areas. These applications were supported by active Second Level Support Groups across the country – the Drogheda group, for example, had over 700 expressions of interest from local parents.
In June 2012 The Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn announced that Educate Together's applications for second-level patronage were successful in Blanchardstown and Drogheda. These schools, along with the Lucan Educate Together school will open in September 2014.
In November 2013 the patronage of a further five second level was awarded to Educate Together in Cork, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, North Wicklow, and Balbriggan and Ballinteer in Dublin.
Colleges of education
In the Irish system, student teachers complete their initial teacher education in state-funded, religiously-run Colleges of Education, where a substantial amount of time is set aside for Religious Education and the study of either the Catholic or Church of Ireland religious instruction programmes. At present Educate Together is working in four of the five state-funded Colleges of Education. Educate Together is currently lobbying for sustained access to full-year groupings at least twice in the undergraduate and post-graduate cycle.
Educate Together offers a one year, part-time postgraduate Certificate in Ethical and Multi-denominational Education in partnership with St Patrick’s College of Education from October 2012.
- What is an Educate Together School?, Educate Together.
- Educate Together Schools, Educate Together.
- , Educate Together.
- "Pioneer of Irish multi-denominational education". The Irish Times. 9 January 2010.
- Denis O'Sullivan. Cultural politics and Irish education since the 1950s. Institute of Public Administration. p. 200.
- "Overview of the Irish education system". www.citizensinformation.ie.
- Teaching of Atheism by Fionnuala Ward, InTouch Magazine, Page 37, March 2011 Issue, INTO Publications.
- Teach atheism to primary school children, Educate Together representative says Iona Institute, 7th April 2011.
- About Educate Together
- "'New' Ireland to open 20 more schools next year". Irish Independent. 3 October 2007.
- "Church willing to hand over control of primary schools". Irish Independent. 28 June 2008.
- Gráinne Faller (4 April 2010). "Where will Educate Together students go for second-level?". The Irish Times.
- "Regulation of school patronage urged". The Irish Times. 4 December 2009.
- , INTO
- "'Society in Ireland has changed so much...'". Irish Independent. 17 September 2008.
- "'New Educate Together Post-primary Schools in CORK, KILDARE, WICKLOW and DUBLIN'". Educate Together. 28 November 2013.