Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), the national representative body for Ireland’s 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs), has welcomed the government publication of Guidance for School Communities on the Reconfiguration Process. General Secretary Paddy Lavelle stated “Irish society has changed significantly over the past number of decades. However, almost 90% of primary schools remain under the management of the Catholic church. It is important that parents in Ireland today have the choice to send their child to a multi-denominational school in their local area.”

  • The Programme for Government prioritises the transfer of viable schools to the Community National School (CNS) model which are under the patronage of local Education and Training Boards (ETBs).
  • There are currently 27 CNSs across the country with a 28th opening in September 2022 in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
  • CNSs deliver the national primary school curriculum as set out by the Department of Education and have a ‘multi-denominational’ ethos rather than a religious ethos.
  • CNSs understand ‘multi-denominational’ to mean that all children are treated equally throughout the school day, regardless of any aspect of their identity.
  • Instead of a faith formation programme which is taught in religious schools, children follow a multi-belief and values education curriculum called ‘Goodness Me! Goodness You!’.
  • CNSs also celebrate events that are important to the school community such as Christmas, Eid and Diwali throughout the school year.

“Although CNSs are multi-denominational, thousands of Catholic parents choose to send their children these schools,” Paddy Lavelle continued. “While they are raising their children as Catholic, these parents want their children to receive a progressive, high-quality education in a school that promotes equality and respect for diversity. Most of these parents still choose to have their children receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation. This will also be the case for any school that moves from being a Catholic school to a CNS. In CNSs, sacramental preparation is facilitated by the local parish. These classes can take place in the parish or in the school after the school day”.

Paddy Lavelle concluded, “ETBI looks forward to supporting ETBs and school communities throughout the process of transferring from a religious patron to the CNS model. Although it may seem like a daunting task for a school community at first, we have already supported many schools through this process. This has ensured the successful transfer of these schools to the CNS model”

Notes to the Editor

For more information on the CNS model:

Available for interview: 

Seamus Conboy, Director of Schools, ETBI  087 7114415

About Education and Training Boards Ireland

Education & Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) is the national representative body for our member Education & Training Boards (ETB) and negotiates on behalf of the ETB sector at various forums both within the education sector, the wider public service and at EU level. Our mission is to lead and advance the continued development of education, training, and youth work in Ireland. Our vision is to harness our strength to influence and promote a strong education and training sector through collaboration and collective effort. ETBI is guided by the principles of people, partnership, and potential in all its activities.

About Education and Training Boards

Education & Training Boards are Ireland’s leading statutory providers of Education and Training and are unique in providing whole of life education and training to all. Education and Training Boards have responsibility for 27 Community National Schools and 250 Post‐Primary Schools with over 112,349 students. ETB Post‐Primary Schools are the largest provider of education through the medium of Irish with 48 schools. Education & Training Boards provide quality co-educational, multidenominational education supported by robust governance and pride themselves on catering for students from diverse backgrounds. All ETB schools are firmly rooted in their local communities with an ethos underpinned by the core values of: Excellence in Education, Care, Respect, Equality and Community. ETB schools aim to provide quality learning and teaching environments that are inclusive, learner‐centred, and holistic. Central to this philosophy is full access and engagement with the curriculum using approaches and methodologies that ensure optimum outcomes for young people. Media contact details: General media enquiries to