Catholic Diocesan Advisors behave like the School Inspectorate in ETB schools
In ETB schools and colleges, Catholic Diocesan Advisors behave like the School Inspectorate of the Department of Education & Skills. The Diocesan Advisors run an annual seminar and in-service days for religion teachers who teach in State-run ETB schools. They also provide schools with endless documents for the Religion classes and have control over the hiring of religion teachers.
The Inspectorate at the Department of Education seems to have stopped doing subject inspections on the Religion curriculum. According to the Department of Education’s website, the last time that there was a Subject Inspection on the State Religious Education Course was in January 2014.
Meanwhile the Catholic Church sees itself as having control over the Religion curriculum. They stated in the Guidelines for the Faith Formation and Development of Catholic students that:
State curriculum merged with Catholic teaching
Following our recent crowd-funding appeal for FOI charges from the ETBs, we have seen hundreds of documents from Diocesan Advisors to ETB schools and colleges.
In ETB schools and colleges, the State curriculum in Religious Education is combined with the Guidelines for the Faith Formation and Development of Catholic students. This is not just an add-on course, but is integrated into the State Religious Education curriculum.
ETB schools and colleges make religion compulsory and minorities have no choice but to take Catholic religious instruction which is integrated into the State Religious Education curriculum.
The Catholic Church has control over the hiring of religion teachers in ETB schools and colleges as well as Catholic denominational schools (see circular-1979). The Catholic Church requires Religion teachers in ETB schools and colleges to have a faith commitment even though the RE course is supposed to be for all religions and none.
The Guidelines for the Faith Formation and Development of Catholic students States that:
“Teachers of religion should be people with a faith commitment and recognised professional qualification to do the work competently.”
Religion Subject Inspections on Department website
The Last Religious Education Subject Inspection by the Inspectorate at the Department of Education, was in St. Paul’s Secondary School, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare. According to the Report from the Inspectorate, Religion classes were compulsory in St. Paul’s Secondary school.
The Report does not mention the fact the there is a Constitutional Right to opt out of religion and that making religion compulsory breaches the rights of minority parents and their children.
The Subject Inspection Report before St. Paul’s was from Pobalscoil Iosolde on 26th April 2013, this is an ETB Community School. Again no mention of the Constitutional right to opt out and the fact that Catholic religious formation is being integrated into the State syllabus on religion.
Another ETB school, Colaiste Pobail Setanta, Phibblestown, Clonee, had a Religious Subject Inspection on 21st March 2013. Nothing was mentioned in this Report about the integration of Catholic faith formation into the State syllabus or the Constitutional right of Parents to opt out their children from religion.
The Religious Education policy of Colaiste Pobail Setanta has not changed. They are still forcing children to take religion classes which includes Catholic faith formation.
“All students in the college will follow the Junior Certificate Religious Education syllabus, without exception.
All students will attend Religious Education classes in both Junior and Senior Cycle. While a number of students may study Leaving Certificate Religious Education as a senior option, all students will study Non-Exam Religious Education in Senior Cycle, Transition Year and LCA.”
The Department of Education has always known that minorities were being forced into Catholic religious formation in all publicly funded schools, including ETB schools and colleges.
They knew that there was not five hours of religion taking place in schools, two and a half hours for the State religion course and two and a half hours for Catholic Religious formation.
It is clear from the Inspections done already that the Department of Education is aware that religion is compulsory in second level schools. The Department seems to be allowing the Catholic Church to control the Religion curriculum and use it as an evangelising tool in all second level schools.