Analysis > Emma O Kelly

Religion, nursing and teacher training – what’s the connection?

The dominance of the churches in primary education here has led to an unusual situation at Dublin City University, writes RTÉ Education Correspondent Emma O Kelly. This year sees the full incorporation into DCU of three former colleges of education – the Catholic St Patrick’s and Mater Dei colleges, and the Church of Ireland College of Education (CICE). Both St Pat’s and the CICE train primary school teachers in denominational courses. In negotiations on amalgamation all three colleges were keen …

Multi-denominational school places in demand

Firhouse Educate Together National School is three years old. With 76 pupils, the school is currently in temporary prefab accommodation, as is the new Gaelscoil next door. This year, for the second year running, the school has asked the Department of Education for permission to fill not just one but two junior infant classes in September. But as yet – and time is fast running out – they have not received the go ahead from the Department of Education. The demand is clear. At …

Student fees – pay now, pay later?

How to address the widely acknowledged funding crisis at Third Level is, arguably, the most pressing education decision that will face the next government. A Government-commissioned report on how best to tackle the funding shortfall was finalised last week and has now been sent to the Department of Education. That study outlines several options, including the introduction of an income contingent loan scheme to cover third level fees, a kind of “study now, pay later” system. The report maps out …

School admissions policy under UN spotlight

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will question a Government delegation on Ireland’s record regarding children’s rights on 14 January. Their agenda is a broad one and it includes the issue of school admissions and religion. Specifically, the UN wants to know what measures are being taken to ensure children are not denied a school place on religious grounds. It also wants to know about measures taken to ensure children have the right to opt-out of religious classes and/or …

What will Rule 68’s deletion mean for schools?

In his April 2012 report on pluralism and patronage in schools, Professor John Coolahan recommended that the primary school regulation known as Rule 68 be deleted “as soon as possible”. It looks like, more than three years on, that’s finally going to happen. Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan announced on Tuesday that she would abolish the rule in Januar Rule 68 is one of a set of regulations drawn up in 1965 to govern national or primary schools here. The …

Future of ‘parent rule’ still unclear

It’s a Department of Education practice that came in with Ruairi Quinn several years ago: save a hotly anticipated new report or study for publication on the day the teachers’ annual conferences get under way. It’s mildly irritating for journalists but by now we’ve come to expect it, and of course we understand the rationale behind it; to deflect attention from what the teachers are saying; to dominate the news agenda. This year the department chose the new Admissions to Schools bill. …

Students demand more from third-level colleges

Around 400 students and staff at the National College of Art and Design attended a meeting this week at which they were addressed by Director Declan McGonagle. The media was excluded from the meeting – a decision taken by college management – but afterwards it seemed from students and staff that the encounter had done little or nothing to address their concerns. Some students told RTÉ News that in fact it had made “a lot more people a lot more …

Supreme Court verdict on enrolment policy

This morning the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on whether or not a school’s enrolment policy of favouring the children of past pupils over others amounts to indirect discrimination against children from the Traveller community. It dismissed an appeal by the boy’s mother Mary Stokes. She had argued that the measure disproportionately affected Travellers because they were statistically less likely to have parents who had ever attended secondary school.

Good news for non-religious parents

By Emma O Kelly, Education Correspondent There’s good news today for non-religious parents of young children in Tuam, New Ross, Castlebar and Birr. From September, for the first time, it looks like they will be able to choose multi-denominational education for their offspring. As in very many areas across the country, such parents have currently no choice but to send their children to religious-run schools, overwhelming Catholic-run schools.

The ‘thorny issue’ of SNAs and JobBridge

By Emma O Kelly, RTÉ’s Education Correspondent I spent the best part of a day last Monday phoning primary schools that had recently applied through JobBridge for Special Needs Assistants. I didn’t manage to call every school but I made many phone calls, left several messages, and managed to speak to ten school principals. That’s almost one quarter of all schools currently advertising. Those I did get to talk to spoke openly and often at length about the reasons behind …