Educate Together is the representative organisation for primary & secondary multi-denominational schools in Ireland. It is an independent NGO that runs and supports schools that guarantee equality of access and esteem to children “irrespective of their social, cultural or religious background”. Educate Together schools are learner centred in their approach to education and are run as participatory democracies, with respectful partnership between parents, pupils and teachers. The Educate Together national office is working towards an Ireland in which all people have access to an excellent education that is inclusive of all, irrespective of belief system, ethnicity, class, culture, gender, language, sexuality, family background and ability.
Educate Together schools teach the Learn Together Ethical Education Curriculum, rather than the religious instruction programmes taught in denominational schools. This curriculum has four strands:
Moral and Spiritual: children learn about feelings and values, the development of conscience, choices and consequences, stillness and meditation.
Equality and Justice: children learn about wants and needs, rights and responsibilities; the promotion of equality and the nature of democracy locally (student councils are encouraged), nationally and globally.
Belief Systems: children learn about the rites and ceremonies, celebrations, key figure and beliefs and values of the six main world religions: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism. Schools also address Atheism, Agnosticism and Humanism.
Ethics and the Environment: children learn about appreciation and stewardship of the natural world. Educate Together schools have an ethos of respect, diversity & inclusion.
From September 2013, there will be 68 Educate Together primary schools in Ireland. The newest Educate Together schools will open in Firhouse and Dublin 8 and Douglas/Rochestown (Cork) in 2013. The growth in the Educate Together school network continues to be driven by parental demand. In addition to our established schools we have start-up groups in communities hoping to have Educate Together schools opened in their area.
In addition to opening and operating primary schools, Educate Together has campaigned successfully for a new model of second-level education. Educate Together’s approach at second-level moves away from ‘teaching to the test’ and towards an emphasis on the learner. Students will develop skills in creative and critical thinking, communication, teamwork, research and leadership. Teachers in an Educate Together second-level school will use the best teaching and learning methods to make students’ learning active, relevant, challenging and enjoyable.