In April, Opting Out was born with the intention of giving primary schools the opportunity to demonstrate how they accommodate pupils and teachers from minority and non-faith backgrounds. Out of 3,115 primary schools in Ireland, 2,996 of them are run with a denominational ethos.
The aim of the first phase was to give 6 months to the various management bodies to inform schools about OptingOut.ie and make them aware of this opportunity. OptingOut.ie wrote to the following agencies and received the following responses:
- Minister of Education and Skills – Acknowledgement April 2018 but no response as of November 1st 2018.
- CPSMA – No acknowledgement
- General Synod Board of Education (Church of Ireland) – No acknowledgement
- Dublin Talmud Torah – Acknowledgement April 2018 with note to say that it will be passed to the Board of Management of their school. Update: only school refused to co-operate due to “security reasons”
- Muslim Primary Education Board – No acknowledgement
- IPPN – Acknowledgement April 2018. Offer of article in the future, which was published in September.
- INTO – No acknowledgement
- NPC – Refused to co-operate. Correspondence noted that parents should contact all the principals of schools in their area for information (May 2018).
Of the denominational management bodies and patron bodies, only the Jewish patron body gave a response. There was no response from the other bodies.
Of the bodies that do not have a denominational preference, the INTO, which represents almost all primary teachers did not respond to the requests; and the National Parents’ Council, which represents the parents’ of all pupils, refused to co-operate. The Irish Primary Principals’ were the only body that agreed to support this project in any way. An article about OptingOut.ie appeared in their September 2018 newsletter, which was sent out to the vast majority of principals and deputy principals. The following is a graphic outline of the responses. For the record 16 primary schools have signed up to the site and are now complying with the Schools’ Admissions Bill in how they accommodate pupils from minority backgrounds.
The next plan will be to directly contact schools over the coming months and analyse how many of them will sign up. This will ensure that no school will be able to say that they have not heard of OptingOut.ie.
We will give a new deadline for schools – mid-February 2019, which is just over 3 and a half months.