As Catholic Schools Week takes place across Ireland, a survey of 500 parents entitled Articulating a new positioning for Catholic education in Ireland, has found that 72% of parents are satisfied with the choice of school for their children. It also found that 78% supported the Church having a role in continuing role in schools.
The survey also identified that 9% of parents feel that the Church should have a “much more active role” and 33% thought they Church should have “some role” in the ethos of their local school “equal to that of other community members, such as parents, principals and teachers”. Just 22% of parents indicated that the Church should have no role in the ethos of their local school. Additionally, 20% of parents thought that Catholic schools had an advantage due to their “inclusion of students from all backgrounds”.
This survey was commissioned by the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA), the Catholic Education Partnership (CEP), and the Association of Management of Catholic Secondary Schools (AMCSS), and conducted by external consulting firm Genesis during April 2019. This was followed by qualitative research in April and May. The qualitative research consisted of twelve interviews with school principals and fourteen interviews with board of management chairpersons along with four focus groups of parents of children in primary and second level.
The survey aimed to get an up-to-date and comprehensive picture of public perception of the Catholic school ‘brand’ and factors determining choice of Catholic schools. The project sought to identify what ‘Catholic’ might mean in a modern and pluralist Irish education system. Themes of the survey questions included: being Catholic in contemporary Ireland, school choice, satisfaction, and divestment; and what makes a school ‘Catholic’.
The survey showed that parents believe that Catholic schools can instil values rooted in respect, community and giving. Parents value that Catholic schools can excel at teaching right from wrong, and lead on social inclusion. It was found that the advantages that a Catholic ethos can bring to a school are ‘foundational’ and ‘developmental’ in terms of morality and ethics.