Tuesday, June 26, 2012

‘School ethos at total odds with ours’

Carla Bannon and Domhnall Forde live in Trim, Co Meath, with their two children.

The couple’s third child was due on Wednesday as Education Minister Ruairi Quinn rubber-stamped the latest phase in the process that could see hundreds of Catholic primary schools given over to new patrons.

The atheist couple’s oldest child Siún is four and enrolled to start junior infants at a local Catholic school in September, as there is no multi-denominational school in Trim. 

It is one of the 44 areas where the Department of Education will canvas the views of parents of primary pupils and pre-school children later this year on the kind of schools they want in the town.

Siún will likely have reached first class at least by the time one of the area’s four denominational schools (three Catholic and one Church of Ireland) is made available to an alternative patron.

But Carla is hopeful that their two-year-old son Conall and their new arrival will have the option of starting in a new school by the time they reach school-going age.

"The local school comes across as such a welcoming and child- centred place. But the ethos of the school which they very actively embrace, as is their right, is at complete odds with our ethos at home.

"My husband and I are atheist or humanist, so we would prefer that she would have no faith formation, no being taught supernatural beliefs as fact," she said.

Carla and Domhnall are active with a group of local parents that has around 100 children’s names for enrolment in a multi-denominational Educate Together school they hope will open in Trim in the next few years.

The group is one of a number likely to put themselves forward as an alternative patron body if a Catholic school property becomes available.

"It’s very exciting that this is happening, it’s a big, big relief for us that we’re at least getting a chance to have our voices heard," she said.

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