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 established in 1831 and which, together with Special Schools, comprise all State-funded primary education in Ireland.

All National Schools, whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Jewish or Educate Together schools are funded by the State on an equal basis.  They operate the same National Curriculum, follow the same Rules for Boards of Management and are staffed by teachers who have the same level of professional qualifications and recognition.

What Makes Educate Together Schools Different?

Where schools differ from each other is in their “ethos”.  The ethos of a school describes its spirit and character.  This is built upon its aims and objectives, its policies and procedures and should be reflected in all interactions within the school community.  Thus, the ethos of a school impacts strongly on the kind of education delivered to its pupils.

In place of religious instruction programmes, which are taught in denominational schools, Educate Together schools teach the Learn Together Ethical Education Curriculum. This curriculum has four strands:

  • Moral and Spiritual – children learn about feelings and values, the development of conscience, choices and consequences, stillness and meditation.
  • Equality and Justice – children learn about wants and needs, rights and responsibilities; the promotion of equality and the nature of democracy locally (student councils are encouraged), nationally and globally.
  • Belief Systems – children learn about the rites and ceremonies, celebrations, key figure and beliefs and values of the six main world religions: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism. Schools also address Atheism, Agnosticism and Humanism.
  • Ethics and the Environment – children learn about appreciation and stewardship of the natural world. Educate Together schools have an ethos of respect, diversity & inclusion.

Educate Together as Patron

Within the Irish National School System, responsibility for determining the ethos of a school rests with the “Patron”. The main legislation that governs education in Ireland (the Education Act 1998) confers significant powers on school patrons.

Amongst other powers, the Patron:-

  • establishes a new school
  • sets up its Board of Management
  • selects the first Principal before the school opens
  • directly appoints two members of the Board, approves the selection of other members and appoints the Chairperson
  • approves the appointment of all teaching staff
  • lays down the fundamental ethos base of the board.

The fundamental legal concept of Educate Together’s patronage is that the Board of an Educate Together school is bound to operate a school that delivers equality of access and esteem to all children, irrespective of their social, cultural and religious background.

The legal documents of Educate Together commit both the Patron and the Board of all schools to uphold the following principles.

All schools should be:

  • Multi-denominational i.e. all children having equal rights of access to the school, and children of all social, cultural and religious backgrounds being equally respected
  • Co-educational and committed to encouraging all children to explore their full range of abilities and opportunities
  • Child centred in their approach to education
  • Democratically run with active participation by parents in the daily life of the school, whilst positively affirming the professional role of the teachers.

For further information you can also check the Educate Together website –