Educate Together to open 9 new schools next week

It is the second highest number of schools the organisation has opened in a single year

Educate Together to open 9 new schools next week

File photo. Image: RollingNews.ie

Nine new Educate Together schools will open next week as the new school year gets underway.

The organisation says it reflects the demand for schools that do not observe a single religious background.

Four national schools and five secondary schools will open in counties Cork, Dublin, Mayo and Wicklow.

Overall it is the second highest number of schools the organisation has opened in one year, as well the highest number of second-level schools.

The group says "all children are equally respected regardless of social, religious or cultural background" in their schools.

Paul Rowe, CEO of Educate Together, said: “The reputation of Educate Together’s equality-based schools continues to grow, nurtured by the example set by existing schools, by the satisfaction of parents and children and by the very fact that Educate Together offers a level of inclusivity, openness and innovation that is unparalleled in the Irish education system.”

Speaking about their secondary schools, Mr Rowe added: "The enthusiasm of teachers, parents and students has been astounding and Irish second-level education needs this energy if it is to offer students a path of learning and living that chimes with the modern world.”

There have been increased calls for further divestment of Irish schools, including a campaign launched last week calling for an end to the 'baptism barrier' for entry.

Education Minister Richard Bruton announced new education initiatives in June.

However, he also said the new admissions bill will not remove the clause that allows schools to discriminate on the basis of religion.

The Government's Education Committee is currently considering a bill to amend the Equal Status Act, which Labour says "seeks to balance the constitutional right of religious bodies to organise and run schools with the rights of the child to have access to his or her local school".