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Minister Quinn launches public consultation on inclusiveness in primary schools

September 23, 2013

Historic initiative to consult directly with parents about how all children can be made to feel included and involved in their local primary school

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D, and the CEO of the National Parents Council Primary, Áine Lynch, joined forces today to launch a public consultation on promoting inclusiveness in primary schools, which includes an information leaflet specifically for parents.

The public consultation process is part of the Minister’s Action Plan in response to the Report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector.

As well as dealing with the divesting of patronage of certain schools by the Catholic Church, the Group made a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring that schools, particularly Stand Alone schools which cater to entire communities, are as inclusive as possible and accommodate students of various belief systems and traditions. The recommendations cover areas such as having equitable enrolment policies; dealing effectively with the Constitutional right to opt out of religious instruction; having school policies on the conduct of religious and cultural celebrations in schools as well as having Boards of Management of denominational schools reflect the diversity of the local community.

Launching the consultation process, Minister Quinn said “Schools should be welcoming places for all children from the local community. We all know that Irish society has changed a lot in recent years. Our education system needs to adapt, to make sure that, as well as continuing to cater for children with more traditional religious beliefs, there is also respect for children of different traditions and beliefs.

“I want to thank Áine Lynch and her colleagues in the National Parents Council Primary for working with my Department on preparing the information leaflet for parents, and for agreeing to circulate the leaflet to parents’ associations nationwide.”

The Minister urged parents and other interested parties to make submissions.

“This is your chance to have your say and share your views with us”, he said. “I strongly encourage parents, teachers and all those with an interest in this area to take this opportunity. Many schools are already doing a good job in catering for children from different cultural, religious and belief traditions. I also want to hear about these good practices.”
Aine Lynch also urged parents to engage in the consultation process, stating that the education system in Ireland must ensure that all children’s and families beliefs are respected and valued.
“Parents and children have a unique contribution to make to this consultation process by outlining their experiences both positive and negative and to make proposals for the education system they would like to experience into the future”, she said.
The deadline for receipt of submissions is 22 November 2013.

Following the consultation process, the Forum Report findings and recommendations in this area and the submissions received will be considered in drafting a White Paper as set out in the Programme for Government.

For further information please contact:
Siobhán Creaton 087 941 6286
Sarah Moroney 087 772 0570

Minister Quinn published the Forum Advisory Group report in April 2012 and announced his action plan in response to this report in June 2012. The report and further details are available on the Department’s website www.education.ie.