Parents reject Church-run schools but still want religion taught in class

Ireland - A survey has found 27% of parents would choose a primary school owned and managed by the Church. The remainder would opt for a Vocational Education Committee school, a multi-denominational school, or a state-run school.

The survey, commissioned by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network and conducted by RedC, also found that while a minority would choose a Church-run school, most still want religion taught at school.

"While there appears to be a public appetite for choice in the models of school patronage available, with most people opting for models that are not based on the ethos of a Church, there is still strong demand for religious instruction to be taught within the school day," said IPPN president Gerry Murphy.

Despite this, he said, the overriding objective of the survey is to ensure the highest standards of teaching are available to all children, regardless of background.

The poll saw a random sample of 729 adults questioned — including those with no dependent children — during March this year.

Among those surveyed who have dependent children under 16 years, 30% said they would send them to a VEC school, which is run by the State.

A quarter (24%) would choose a multi-denominational school such as Educate Together, and 20% would choose a state-run school.

While most would not have their children educated by the Church, 67% said they still want their child to receive religious instruction during the school day.

They would also like their children to get help with preparation for the sacraments, such as first confession, first communion and confirmation.

Some 31% of parents would rather their children receive religious education outside of school.

Of those, 60% said the responsibility of religious education should fall to parents, 26% said it should be the clergy’s responsibility, and 13% teachers’.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn launched the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism last week, which was set up to consult on the primary system to ensure the patronage of schools reflect the diversity of the population, and ensure schools are inclusive of all pupils, regardless of background or religion.

Mr Quinn will consider a report compiled by an independent advisory group within the forum.