Text size

‘Factchecker’ forced to change verdict on Catholic schools

March 31, 2017

TheJournal.ie has been forced to change the verdict of its FactCheck on the enrolment policies of Catholic schools following a challenge from the Iona Institute.

Iona’s Maria Steen appeared on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live a few weeks ago to debate the admissions policy of denominational schools. Ms Steen said that with regard to certain measures, Catholic schools were more diverse than multi-denominational schools, citing ESRI research about the proportion of pupils from lone-parent families, less affluent households and from the Traveller community.

This was challenged on the programme by Paul Rowe of Educate Together as “palpably not true” and “absurd”.

Initial verdict

The Journal’s ‘FactCheck’ then investigated Ms Steen’s claim and its initial verdict was that what she said was ‘mostly false’. This was strongly challenged by the Iona Institute which presented The Journal with the research to back up her claim and FactCheck has now changed its verdict to ‘mostly true’.

The report ‘School Sector Variation Among Primary Schools in Ireland’ was published in 2012, based on data gathered in 2007 and 2008, it was written by the ESRI and funded by Educate Together.

The research compared the religious, socioeconomic, Travelling community, and other backgrounds of pupils at three primary school types: Catholic; multi-denominational (mostly Educate Together); and minority faith schools (Church of Ireland, Jewish and Muslim).

It showed that Catholic school pupils had a greater tendency to be from less affluent and lower socio-economic backgrounds, and there was greater socio-economic diversity among pupils at Catholic primary schools.

It also showed that a higher percentage of Catholic school students came from a lone-parent family than students from other types of schools (18% as opposed to 15% and 9%).