What is an Educate Together school?

The Educate Together brochure is available to download in several languages at Educate Together. A version in English is available here brochure (English version). This brochure gives both a summarised and comprehensive explanation of what Educate Together can offer you and your children.

How can I get a place for my child in an Educate Together school?

You must apply to the school and ask for a pre-enrolment form. The list of schools and their addresses and phone numbers is on this website- http://www.educatetogether.ie

Most of our schools operate a simple “First Come First Served” policy, so it is important that you apply as soon as possible. In schools with long waiting lists, you are advised to apply immediately after the birth of your child. Your application will be taken and treated with utmost confidentiality. You may ask the school what position on the list your application is. You will be informed in the spring of the year your child is due to start school whether or not you have a place. The school will try to keep you informed so that you have as accurate a view as possible as to your child’s chances of getting a place. It is very important that you tell the school if you change your address, so that they can keep in contact.

What can I do if there is no Educate Together school in my vicinity?

The first thing you should do is to apply directly to the Department of Education and tell them that you want such a school. Really it is the State’s responsibility to provide suitable education for your child. You can express this in a standard LETTER TO THE MINISTER
You should also contact our New Schools Department. The best way is by email to info@educatetogether.ie. We are always working to establish new schools and there may already be other people in your area looking for an Educate Together school. If you like, you can help to organise a start up group and participate in the establishment a new school. This can be a very rewarding experience. Please see information on start up groups for more information.

I have been told that there is no place for my child in my local Educate Together school. What can I do about this?

You should inform the Department of Education and Science of the situation. You can use a standard LETTER TO THE MINISTER and contact our New Schools Department on info@educatetogether.ie. They maybe plans to open new schools in your vicinity and there maybe places in other Educate Together schools nearby. We are aware of the large number of parents who are unable to get places in some of our schools and we are working as hard as possible to provide more places in these areas. Unfortunately, we have only limited resources to do this, so it is important that you express your wishes to the Department to strengthen our case for increased support.

How are Educate Together Schools different?

In Ireland, the fundamental operational policies of State-funded primary schools are determined by their “Patrons” In most cases (98%) the patron is the local bishop of either the Roman Catholic or Anglican Church. However, in Educate Together schools, the patron is a company whose legal basis obliges it to operate schools that guarantee equality of access and esteem to children “irrespective of their social, cultural or religious backgrounds”. This is the fundamental difference.
Educate Together schools are also “parent initiated schools”. They are set up by groups of parents who wish for this type of school in their locality. As a result there is a high level of parental participation in the operation of the school.
The corporate nature of Educate Together as a patron means that all its actions are bound by its legal articles. Each school is a member of the company and so there is transparency, accountability and democratic involvement by the school communities in the decisions it makes as a patron.
You can see the fundamental legal basis of the Educate Together movement in the
Educate Together Charter

Why are they called Educate Together schools?

Educate Together was carefully chosen as the name of our organisation to reflect the coming together of children of different social, cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. The term was first used in the 1970s together with the concept of “No Child an Outsider”. It also reflects a commitment to co-educationalism, with girls and boys being educated together. We hope that the name reflects our commitment to inclusion and equality in the running of our schools. In the Irish language our name is “Ag Foghlaim Le Chéile”.

Are Educate Together schools anti-religious?

Not at all. Our philosophy is multi-denominational. The idea is to provide a school environment in which the spiritual background of all children in respected whatever their viewpoint. Our Ethical Education Curriculum has a specific strand which educates children about the main religious faiths in the world (this includes non-theistic and humanist viewpoints). This programme aims to inform rather than instruct. It teaches children “about” religions rather than that one is “the right way to think”. Our school boards are not permitted to promote any particular faith. We feel that specific religious formation is the responsibility of parents and religious organisations outside school. Within the school we aim to ensure that no child has to be set apart as a result of their religion. However, to assist any group of parents who wish to do so, our school boards facilitate the organisation of voluntary doctrinal instruction classes outside school hours. Many parents with deep religious convictions choose our schools and find that their viewpoints are fully respected.

What does ‘child-centred’ mean?

In education, “Child-centred” means that teaching is carried out according to the developmental interests of the child. The curriculum in Irish National Schools has been formally child-centred since 1971. This means that the teacher in the class is committed to addressing as far as possible the individual needs of each child. It must be understood however, that this is always resource dependent. The current size of classes and lack of resources provided by the State often make the full realisation of this ideal impossible.  In terms of the Educate Together Charter, our commitment to Child-centredness means that the Board of the school must take the educational interests of the children as its fundamental priority.
In a school context, it is important to understand that the Board’s commitment is to all the children in the school whose interests must be considered equally.

Why are all Educate Together schools co-educational?

It would be hard for us to call ourselves “Educate Together” if we had separate schools for girls and boys! Although most primary schools in Ireland are now co-educational, that was not the case when we started in the 1970s. In today’s terms, our commitment to co-educationalism means that Educate Together is committed to encouraging children to explore their full range of opportunities irrespective of gender. We have learnt that this means much more than simply putting girls and boys in the same classroom and teaching them the same programme. We have to develop programmes to counter gender stereotyping and inequity in all aspects of school life. We think that encouraging an ability amongst children to have respectful relationships between girls and boys is a vital part of preparing them for their a future in a society where hopefully there will be increasing equality between genders.

How are Educate Together schools funded?

Educate Together National Schools are funded (or under-funded) on an exactly equal basis as other National Schools in Ireland. The State pays the teachers and a series of grants to the Board of Management mainly determined by the number of children attending. Unfortunately these grants never cover the real costs of the school and the school has to run fund-raising programmes to make up the difference. Educate Together’s legal charter prevents our schools discriminating on the grounds of social background, so all our fundraising programmes are voluntary.  Together with other management bodies, Educate Together is campaigning for the State to reverse the long standing under funding of primary education in Ireland and radically increase the grant per child (the capitation grant) paid to schools.

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