Catholic schools are already inclusive a Church spokesman has told Education Minister Ruairi Quinn after he attacked the Church for not providing him with examples of schools that are models of inclusivity.
Speaking at the annual congress of the INTO, Mr Quinn complained that the Catholic Church has not yet provided the Department of Education and Skills with “clearly demonstrated examples” of inclusive Catholic Primary schools.
However, responding to his comments, Fr Michael Drumm, chairman of the Catholic Schools Partnership, said that Catholic schools are the most inclusive in society and are already facilitating parents who want to opt their children out of religious education.
Mr Quinn also told INTO members that Catholic primary schools should consider timetabling religion at the start or end of the school day to allow parents opt their children out of religion class. Mr Quinn acknowledged this might not be practical in smaller schools.
According to the Irish Times, Fr Drumm said schools had proven adept at dealing with religious difference, and he disputed Mr Quinn’s comments that the church had failed to provide the Department of Education and Skills (DES) with concrete examples of how its schools can be “genuinely inclusive”.
“The DES launched a consultation on inclusivity in schools last October, and we submitted responses,” said Fr Drumm. “We have not seen that report and are awaiting its results – the ball is in the department’s court.” He questioned why Mr Quinn had raised the issue now and said religious instruction was not a concern for a large majority of parents and teachers.
“The evidence we hear on the ground is when the child-centred nature of the religious education programme is explained to parents from other traditions, the vast majority, including Muslims, are happy for their children to stay in,” he added.