An internal review by the Education and Training Boards Ireland says that the multidenominational character of some of its schools may be compromised by Catholic input, and may have to change their core values to align with the ETB. However, the schools were often handed over by religious orders to ETBs in good faith and free of charge in return for certain assurances about ethos.
The draft review states that legally-binding agreements with the Catholic Church dating back to the 1970s oblige a quarter of these schools to employ chaplains, provide students with two hours of religious instruction and undergo inspections by diocesan examiners .
The school with such agreement still have graduation Masses and symbols from the Catholic faith. The original agreements often took into account the fact that the vast majority of the local population were baptised Catholics.
Nessa White, the general secretary of the Education and Training Boards Ireland, says the report highlights the challenge facing the sector in terms of achieving clarity and consistency over the place of religions and beliefs in ETB schools.
“We will continue to lead the core values review process over the coming months and hope to develop the framework by June 2020,” she says.
“Schools will then be required over time to redevelop their vision and mission statements and related practices to ensure that while they meet the broad needs of the school community that they are in line with the core values of the sector.”