ETBI, the organisation that promotes and coordinates community national schools, welcomed Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, to Citywest and Saggart Community National School last Friday.
Earlier in the day Minister Bruton had outlined the Government’s support for community national schools at the national conference of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network in the Citywest Convention Centre.
Following his conference address he visited Citywest and Saggart Community National School to meet pupils, teachers and staff and to hear about the work ETBI is doing to establish additional community national schools nationwide.
Speaking following the visit, in response to comments made by Minister Bruton, Séamus Conboy, ETBI’s Primary Support Officer for Community National Schools, said:
“Today, Minister Bruton gave the clearest indication to date that the Government views community national schools as integral to the future of primary education in Ireland.
“The Minister highlighted the many features of community national schools that make them relevant and attractive for parents in modern Irish society, including the fact that they are multidenominational, equality-based and responsive to the needs of local communities.
“Most people in Ireland today see the importance of children learning how to reflect on their lives in spiritual or meaningful ways.
“Historically, people relied on Church-run schools to teach children how to do this.
“Now, parents of children in CNS schools love that these schools make space for the spiritual part of a child’s identity while respecting all faiths and secular beliefs equally.
“Speaking to parents across the country, it is obvious that they want this type of educational setting for their children.”
Mr Conboy said community national schools reflect both the changing needs of Irish people and the multiculturalism of modern Ireland.
“An important feature of community national schools is that the State itself is the patron of these schools, through the local Education and Training Boards, which are present in every county in the country.
“For the State to have direct patronage of these schools is hugely significant: by establishing community national schools, the State has taken a very appropriate and ambitious approach to pluralism.
“It has chosen to deal head on with religious diversity in a meaningful way, as opposed to completely secularising schools, as has happened in many other jurisdictions.”
There are currently 11 community national schools in Ireland, with a number of ETBs and local communities working together to establish additional schools.