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Image / Editorial

Catholic symbols are being phased out of State schools

by Holly O'Neill
13th Oct 2020

Over 200 state secondary schools will phase out Catholic symbols and rituals to cater to children of all religious and non-religious beliefs

Displaying Catholic symbols and Catholic rituals like mandatory masses and visits from diocesan inspectors are to be phased out of State secondary schools.

These new rules apply to over 200 secondary schools run by the State’s Education and Training Boards (ETBs) which are officially categorised as multidenominational but will not apply to 70 ETB schools that have legally binding agreements with the Catholic Church.

According to The Irish Times, “an unpublished document on the core values of these schools has raised concern within the sector that Catholic practices are normalised in many State schools.”

The “framework for the recognition of religious belief/identities of all students in ETB schools” specifies steps for schools to follow for a multidenominational ethos.

The steps state that if religious imagery is displayed in schools, it should represent all religious groups and beliefs in the student population. If religious holidays are represented, such as displaying a crib at Christmas, schools must ensure balance by also representing other religious holidays, such as Islamic symbols for Eid.

Schools will be taught the State curriculum on religion with an overview of various faiths and beliefs and religion teachers are to only receive training from groups that are compatible with the multidenominational ethos of an ETB school. Only the Department of Education’s inspectors will be allowed to inspect religious teaching and not diocesan inspectors.

School events that celebrate a religious event are to be on an opt-in basis for students, rather than requiring students to opt-out.

Paddy Lavelle, General Secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland, told The Irish Times that the framework addresses the “multidenominational aspect of our schools specifically and the importance of catering for children of all religious and non-religious worldviews equally”.

Photography by Unsplash.

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