13th December 2007
Archbishop Welcomes New Model of School Provision
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin, has welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, that patronage of the national school system is to be extended to include a new model of community school.
It has always been the view of the Archbishop and the Diocese that parents and communities should be provided with plurality of choice in our national school system and today’s announcement is hopefully the beginning of such a model for the country. The national school must remain at the very core of community. The Archbishop is particularly welcoming of the provision for religious education and faith formation during the school day.
It is imperative that adequate funding is in place to ensure that every school has an equal opportunity of achieving excellence for its pupils and this is only possibly by investment. Every national school should provide, equally and adequately for children of different ethnic and economic backgrounds. Every school should provide equally and adequately for children of different ability. The various patron bodies in the education sector must play their part in ensuring that all children have access to the same quality of education.
If the new community model is to succeed in this system, it must be one that provides centres of excellence that families will aspire to have their children participate in. Parents also have a responsibility to ensure their community will support and sustain their local school.
Archbishop Martin has in the past acknowledged that Catholic schools are over represented in the national school system; those same schools, in practice, have been and will continue to be a model of integration.
However, the school alone cannot be the focus of integration policy. Serious examination has to be given to existing policies, particularly in the area of housing and rent provision to avoid ghettoisation of new communities.
Archbishop Martin noted that the new community model is to be piloted in West County Dublin and said consideration should be given to extending the pilot programme in more established urban and rural communities.