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Press Statement by Michael Moriarty, General Secretary IVEA, on Report of Advisory Group on Patronage & Pluralism

10/04/2012

On behalf of the Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA), I welcome the Advisory Group’s firm recommendation that the Community National School (CNS) pilot scheme, operated by the Vocational Education Committees (VECs), be maintained and expanded. This model provides the state with a multi- denominational primary school which recognises all faiths and beliefs while seeking to accommodate the main faith groups through faith formation classes during the school day.

The Advisory Group’s recommendation that faith formation classes be taught as a discrete subject clearly reflects the CNS policy of the right of parents to have faith formation classes, if they so wish, during the school day. The vote of confidence in the CNS model is a vindication of our member VECs’ commitment to the development of a primary school for 21st Century Ireland.

IVEA is confident that those patrons wishing to divest some of their schools will view the VEC-operated Community National School as an ideal alternative model.

IVEA agrees that there is an acute need now to establish Boards of Management in these schools as a priority. I am now confident that Minister Quinn will move to standardise the governance of the CNS model without further delay by transferring governance from his Department to the relevant VECs.

We welcome the recommendation that Boards of Management in existing stand-alone schools should develop policies on religious and cultural diversity to foster an inclusive school ethos. In fact, such policies of inclusiveness are already a key characteristic of VEC first and second level schools.

The further recommendation that the Joint Campus model of education provision be further expanded is also welcomed by IVEA, as the VECs have piloted such campuses in Naas (Co. Kildare VEC) and Monaghan (Co. Monaghan VEC).

That parental preference will be the defining factor in the determination of future school patronage will be broadly welcomed. The additional requirement for school patrons to define the ethos and characteristic spirit of their schools will ensure real transparency for all. The emphasis on equitable enrolment policies to underpin fairness and diversity reflects the oft-stated values of the vocational education sector. IVEA has long demanded that all schools at second level should have clear and agreed open enrolment policies. We expect that the Minister will back this recommendation of the Advisory Group with action at both primary and second level so that all schools have an enrolment which reflects the cultural diversity of the local community.

IVEA is confident that Minister Quinn will endorse these recommendations of the Advisory Group when he publishes his official response in May.

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