Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Department of Education and Skills
47. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for religious education in the community national schools in view of the reports that 11 out of 13 of them are opting out of the Goodness Me, Goodness You programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24775/17]
Community National Schools are multi-denominational schools which provide for belief nurturing during the school day. There are eleven such schools in existence at present. They aim to accommodate parents who wish to have their children learn about different faiths and beliefs while at the same time nurturing children in their own beliefs.
‘Goodness Me, Goodness You’ (GMGY) is the patron’s programme that underpins the characteristic spirit of CNS schools. GMGY is a common programme suitable for pupils of all faiths and beliefs and none.
In Junior Infants to 2nd Class, the children follow the GMGY programme together for the majority of the school year, exploring common themes. There is a belief-specific aspect of the programme. In the junior classes only, children have been grouped for a four week period during GMGY time according to their faith or belief tradition, in line with the wishes of their parents. Lesson content was designed specifically for each grouping. In 3rd to 6th class, children remain in their class groups throughout the year and learn about different faiths and religions together. Belief-specific teaching is integrated into GMGY for these classes.
The manner in which schools deliver belief-specific teaching in Junior Infants to 2nd class has evolved. The majority of CNS schools no longer group children according to their beliefs for the four week period. Instead, these schools have integrated belief-specific teaching so that all children learn about different religions and beliefs together and all class groups remain together throughout. However, they continue to follow the GMGY programme. I have previously indicated that I see merit in this approach.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is to commence a review of the GMGY programme for Junior Infants to 2nd class, starting in September 2017. As part of that review, the belief-specific teaching aspect of the programme will be examined. The Education and Training Boards, as patrons, are also looking at how GMGY can be delivered on the ground in the most inclusive fashion possible. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of these processes.