Dublin ETBs part of expanding Community National School model

by Alex Greaney
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Alex Greaney

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 Ireland by Opinions, also shows that the CNS model, provided by Ireland’s Education and Training Boards (ETBs), including City of Dublin ETB and Dublin and Dun Laoghaire 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.

Mark McDonald, Director of Schools in City of Dublin ETB, stated: “City of Dublin ETB is delighted to be expanding its education provision to primary level from next year as a result of St Enda’s National School, Whitefriar St deciding to become a CNS. We are experiencing an increasing demand for co-educational, multi-denominational education at primary level and City of Dublin ETB is delighted to continue exploring the potential for Community National Schools within the city.”

Nichola Spokes, Director of Schools in Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB, added “We 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 DDLETB we currently have nine Community National Schools. We are proud to have supported one 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.

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.

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