Educate Together National Schools are a specific type of state-funded primary school in Ireland. They are part of the National School system that was originally established in 1831. All National Schools are funded by the State on an equal basis, and operate the same National Curriculum, follow the same rules for Boards of Management and are staffed by teachers who have the same level of qualifications and recognitions.
What makes Educate Together Schools different is in their "ethos" or ‘characteristic spirit’, which impacts strongly on the kind of education delivered to its pupils. All Educate Schools are committed to uphold the following four principles.
All Educate Together schools should be:
- Multi-Denominational, which commits them to the principle that all religious backgrounds should be equally respected in the operation of the school. Included in this definition are humanist, agnostic and atheist viewpoints and a generic concept of ‘personal creed’. The objective is to create a school culture and practice in which the identity of every child is guaranteed active support. The school works hard to create a positive, comfortable atmosphere where the underlying concept is that human diversity enhances life, enriches cultures and provides huge educational resources for current and future generations. In an Educate Together school the daily period of time set aside for religious education is used to deliver our Ethical Education Curriculum. This is divided into four strands: ‘Moral and Spiritual Development’, ‘Justice and Equality’, Belief Systems’ and ‘Ethics and the Environment’. The curriculum specifically addresses the Educate Together ethos and it is here that the values that the school seeks to model in its ‘characteristic spirit’ are articulated and explained in greater depth. The inclusive nature of the ethical programme permeates and influences all teaching in the school and the child is formally recognised as a participant in the education process. Children are encouraged to gain personal understanding in a creative and supportive learning environment, and are encouraged to evaluate information, form judgements and articulate these judgements in a supportive, respectful and safe environment. In addition to offering the ethical education programme, Educate Together schools enable any group of parents who wish to use the facilities of the school outside school hours to organise specific doctrinal instruction classes.
- Co-Educational, which commits an Educate Together school to work to ensure that all children are empowered to fulfill their potential irrespective of gender. This obliges an Educate Together school to develop a comprehensive programme to counter gender stereotyping in all its forms, and be pro-active in promoting an approach to learning that encourages and supports the wide variety and range of talents among the children irrespective of gender. The re-balancing of gender roles based on equality and respect is central to the growth and development of society, therefore active encouragement of children of both sexes and the combating of gender-based discrimination is an important part of the ’school plan’ in an Educate Together school.
- Child-Centred, which commits each school to take decisions primarily based on the broad educational and developmental needs of the children over and above other external factors, and would for instance, influence decisions on opening hours, school holidays, code of behaviour and allocation of funds. The needs of the children strongly influence every decision making process.
- Democratically-run, which commits the school to encourage and welcome the involvement of parents. As all Educate Together schools have been set up by volunteer groups of parents of a community, they are key stakeholders who have successfully tackled the difficult and complex task of establishing a school. As a result, parents have a vital role in the operation of the school and its ethos reflects this. High levels of parental involvement in the work of the school are encouraged, while balancing it with an equal obligation to positively affirm the professional role of the teacher.
In Ennis Educate Together NS we pride ourselves on our open, family orientated approach to the education of our children. We are also very proud to be part of the new multi-cultural Ireland where children of all traditions that attend the school are affirmly catered for.