PRODUCT CODE: 9781847308191 New Lower Price

Religious Education at the Heart of our Primary Schools

by Commission for Catholic Education of IBC
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The Commission for Catholic Education and Formation of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference welcomes the opportunity to respond to the NCCA consultation on time and structure within the primary curriculum. While the Commission values the existence of some positive proposals within the consultation document, Proposals for Structure and Time Allocation in a Redeveloped Primary Curriculum: For Consultation, it has serious reservations about the educational philosophy operative throughout.

The Commission is concerned about the relative neglect of the spiritual, moral and religious dimensions of teaching and learning within the core curriculum. The primary concern is the removal of Religious Education from the core curriculum into what the NCCA is terming ‘flexible time’. It is our view that the removal of Religious Education from the core curriculum will have the following consequences, unintended or otherwise: a) the reduction of Religious Education to the same level as a roll call or an assembly or recreation time; b) the privatisation of faith, with all its negative consequences for education and for society; c) the removal of the prophetic dimensions of the Judaeo Christian tradition so needed in these changing and challenging times; d) the neglect of an important resource for integrated and interdisciplinary learning within the curriculum.
The disconnect between some recent documents from the NCCA (e.g. Education about Religion and Belief (ERB) and Ethics in the Primary School: Consultation Paper, and proposals in relation to Goodness Me, Goodness You) and the heretofore positive documents of the NCCA on primary and post-primary education is a cause of major concern.

Moreover, some of the assumptions surrounding Religious Education, especially denominational education, within the consultative document leave a lot to be desired. Equally, the Commission regrets the inadequate treatment of the characteristic spirit of the school.
It would be a pity if the common ground shared between the bishops and the NCCA up to now was to be lost. It would be a backward step if old caricatures were allowed to colour the necessary dialogue about what is best for the education of the next generation of children who will grow up in a world very different to the present one.
The reflections that follow are offered in the spirit of constructive dialogue that should be allowed to inform and shape the future of educational provision in primary schools in Ireland.