OptingOut.ie is aimed at:
- Denominational Primary Schools
- Teachers working in them
- Families sending their children to them
The purpose of the website is to provide factual information as to how denominational schools accommodate minority faiths and none throughout the school day.
On November 1st, 2018, we published how many schools have taken part and publishing statistics based on the information received. We then gave schools until June 30th, 2019, to register themselves. By this date 32 schools had signed up, roughly 1% of all schools.
We had said that if everyone takes part, it will prove that we really do care about people of minority faiths and none in our schools. Given that we gave schools almost 2 years to take part, it is now time to open it up. Anyone can now register their school to show how they believe it is accommodating pupils and teachers.
To differentiate between accounts added by schools and members of the public, any school that registers will be marked with a “verified” badge.
20% of people in Ireland are of a minority faith or have no faith.
However, 96% of primary schools in Ireland (2018) are under denominational patronage. In effect, this means that the majority of families have no choice other than to send their child to a school that may be in conflict with their own belief system. These schools must provide 2.5 hours per week of their patron’s faith formation programme. Many families do not know that they can ask their child to be “opted out” of these classes. This website gives schools the opportunity to explain to families what provision they make for children that have chosen to opt out of faith formation classes. Furthermore, with more and more school staff of minority faiths and none entering the system, schools can provide information as to how they can accommodate their staff in terms of accommodating their beliefs.
Why are we doing this?
Things are not fair for anyone. Schools must uphold the ethos of their patron body but they must also accommodate all children in their school. At the same time, being a minority in Ireland is also difficult. If a parent wishes to choose a school for their child, what are their most local schools offering in terms of opting out? Minority-faith teachers have very few options in terms of employment and if they want a job, the options are extremely limited. Ultimately, we want to make it easy for schools to display what can be expected if anyone comes to the school. That way, there cannot be any confusion.
However, it also sets out a challenge to the government, patron bodies and Boards of Management. This website will only work if schools sign up.
Ultimately, it will be very telling if schools do not.