Religious Worship and Instruction in ETB non – designated Community Colleges.
Religious Worship and Instruction in ETB non – designated Community Colleges
All Education and Training Board (ETB) non-designated Community Colleges at second level are obliged to ensure that there is religious worship and instruction in the college.
These Community Colleges are referred to as State multi-Denominational colleges. They are also sometimes referred to as non-Denominational, despite the fact that there is religious instruction and worship in the college. This is Ireland where multi-Denominational, Interdenominational and non-Denominational are not legally defined. This can mean that a so called State non-Denominational school ends up having religious instruction and worship for one specific religion (Catholic).
According to the Handbook for Boards of Management of Schools and Community Colleges the arrangements for Religious Worship and Instruction in Community Colleges are as per Circular 73 of 74 issued by the Dept of Education in 1974.
These Colleges are also obliged to employ Religious Education teachers approved by the competent religion authority. As far as we are aware it is mainly Catholic Instruction and Worship that takes place in these Community Colleges so these State non-Denominational schools are obliged to employ Religious Education Teachers approved by the local Bishop.
Circular Letter 73/74 does not refer specifically to Catholicism but obviously they have got their foot in the door here. In fact any religious group can seek to have religious instruction taught in non-designated Community Colleges. They can also seek to have religious worship as Circular Letter 73/74 is not just confined to religion instruction classes.
The Circular Letter does not mention the number of students of a particular religion required in a school before they could seek this privilege. Of course how these rules are implemented will depend on the Principal and Board of Management of a particular school but regardless this Circular Letter is their starting point.
In Ireland not only do we have State funded schools controlled by religions, but we also have State religious schools, that are called non-Denominational but operate as religious schools.
The following is the extract from Circular Letter 73/74 on Religion in ETB/VEC non-designated Community Colleges.
“10. (a) In exercising its general control over the curriculum and conduct of the school, the board shall ensure that there is religious worship and instruction in the school except for such pupils whose parents make a request in writing to the Principal that these pupils should be withdrawn from religious worship or instruction or both.
(b) The religious worship by any pupil at the school and the religious instruction given to any pupil shall be in accordance with the rites, practice and teaching of the religious denomination to which the pupil belongs. At least 2 ½ hrs religious instruction shall be given to all the pupils in the school (except those who are withdrawn from religious instruction in accordance with the provisions of sub paragraph (a) above) in each week in which the school is in session.
(c) If any question arises whether the worship conducted or the instruction is or is not, in accordance with the rites, practice and teaching of a religious denomination, that question shall be determined by the competent authority. Such religious worship and instruction be inspected under arrangements made for this purpose by the competent religious authority on such days and on such times and with such notice as may be agreed from time to time by the competent authority and the board.
(d) The Principal shall be immediately responsible for making arrangements for all the religious worship conducted and the instruction given at the school and for the attendance of pupils thereat.
(e) The board shall endeavour to ensure that there are at all times sufficient teachers in the school who are appointed, with the approval of the competent religious authority, to give religious instruction as aforesaid.”