Community National Schools (CNSs) are state, co-educational, multi-denominational primary schools under the patronage of the Education and Training Boards (ETBs). The Community National School ethos is underpinned by 5 core values; excellence in education, care, equality, community and respect. CNSs are under the patronage of the Chief Executives (CEs) of Education and Training Boards (ETBs). As ETB schools, CNSs give equal opportunities to all children in the communities they serve and strive to provide high quality education through respectful, positive, supportive and responsive learning environments and respect.

What is it like to attend or work in a Community National School?

Community National Schools strive to provide all students with equal opportunities to engage with the curriculum and school life. Our schools provide a safe physical and social environment that reinforces a sense of belonging to the school community and wider society. They strive to enable every student to realise their full potential regardless of any aspect of their identity or background. Our schools promote a fully inclusive education that recognises the plurality of identities, beliefs and values held by students, parents and staff.

Like all primary schools in Ireland, Community National Schools follow the Primary School Curriculum (NCCA, 1999). As CNSs have a multi-denominational ethos, children also engage in multi-belief and values education curriculum, Goodness Me, Goodness You! (GMGY).

How do children, parents, and staff describe Community National Schools?

I would tell them that our school is very colourful and has loads of lovely teachers that we’ve had throughout the years.  

What I like about my school is that when I come into it, I feel welcomed and that I know that I can really play with my friends and I know that I’ll learn a lot at the end of the day.  

The teachers like would ask the children to try and welcome them to make them feel safe in the school.  I learned how that everybody has a right to be treated just that the way we were treated and a lot of the time, people don’t really acknowledge that.  We were learning about the Nine Grounds of Discrimination and Human Rights and the travelling community and what they should have rights for.  

If you’re like a certain religion and then there’s another person who is another sort of religion then you don’t really have to be nervous or shy or embarrassed that you’re this type of religion because they’re going to be learning about it and you’re learning about theirs and you won’t really get bullied because everybody’s is learning about different religions and it’s just friendly and kind.  

The community spirit is massive and everyone is made feel a big part of the school the feeling of community and the openness to communicating with parents. You really getting the feeling of 1 big family and the you can see how much the teachers put into their lessons!!  

It has an incredibly warm inclusive environment. Excellent home/school communication. High standards in education. Wonderful extra-curricular opportunities for the children. Strong links within the local community. Children are HAPPY going to school every day.  

The fact that it multidenominational (both in terms if curriculum, culture and no requirement for baptism to enter), the dynamism of the principal and staff and the great emphasis put on science, maths and art. 

My child’s religion is respected and events take place for all religions equally. My daughter is encouraged in not just education but also in life as in confidence and support. 

Children’s involvement in different school activities. Promoting good manners, discipline, respect and equality. Discussing with parents about their child difficulties in the school and trying to find a way to help the child overcome those difficulties. Father of student 

The open nature of the school, there is such energy and enthusiasm from the minute you walk in the door and I love that environment for my little boy.  

The CNS model encompasses community spirit and togetherness  

We are a community national school and our community has many diverse and wonderful cultures that need to be acknowledged and celebrated!  

We teach and demonstrate equality, expression of faith, diversity, justice, critical thinking, tolerance and acceptance everyday. We prepare the children to live harmoniously in a diverse society. 

I think that it is the reason many parents have chosen to send their children to a community national school as every school covers the same academic curriculum however the community national school offers very unique values and ethos. I also think the ethos of the school creates an excellent learning environment for children and ensures they get the best possible outcome from school, not just academically 

Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is at the heart of our schools  

Our school focuses a lot on GMGY and makes a huge effort to celebrate different events/festivals and traditions during the school year. We have a display board at the front of the school which shows projects completed in related to various religions, beliefs and traditions. All parents and visitors to the school can see this. We also have our intercultural day each year and classes spend at least a month beforehand learning about a country and preparing to sing and perform in relation to the chosen country. GMGY is very central to our values and ethos. 

As principal of a Community National School, I feel I am responding to the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. Teachers who teach at CNS schools are typically progressive, hard working, dynamic. The learner is at the centre of all we do. Leading such a team is both exciting and rewarding. 

As a CNS Principal I enjoy amazing support from my ETB from CE to DOS, Finance, HR, IT and other Principals in the ETB. The CE and DOS give me great autonomy to run my school on a day to day basis but are there and available to me whenever required to support through any challenge which may arise. The policies and systems which are in place make me feel safe I am doing the right thing especially in relation to HR and Finance. My ETB have a very good reputation and brand in my county which people know, recognise and trust and it is great to be associated with this. 

A true sense of community and belonging. All the supports are fantastic and no question is ever looked upon as being too simple. There is a department to help and guide all aspects of the smooth running of the school. 

The opportunity to be part of an educational sector that promotes, supports and truly believes in diversity and equality while striving for excellence in education. In being part of this sector, I am very motivated to try to develop a school that is rooted in these fundamental aspects. I know that in doing this, we as a school are providing our pupils and communities with a top-class educational experience that will support them to be the best they can be in a modern dynamic society. 

The positivity and freshness. The support and friendships fostered with other CNS principals. Having a director of schools. The support network and backing of an experienced organisation.