The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) recently engaged in a public consultation in relation to ERB and Ethics. Along with 172 other organisations and individuals, the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association took part in the consultation.
CPSMA did so in the context of valuing the current provision for Religious Education in Catholic schools; of respecting the rights of parents who wish to have faith based education for their children; of developing an ever deeper sense of care for all pupils and of supporting schools in living out their ethos.
The NCCA’s final report Consultation on the proposals for a curriculum in Education about Religions and Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics, published today, reaches a number of key conclusions:
- that the issues of “curriculum overload and time constraints” in primary schools are significant;
- while aspects of the proposals on ERB and Ethics received some support, there was little overall appetite among teachers for the introduction of ERB and Ethics as proposed. Teachers acknowledged current very good inclusive practices in their schools; and named the challenges presented by the proposals in terms of the role of the teacher and the age appropriateness of ERB and Ethics as outlined in the consultation documents;
- critically, much of what was being proposed by ERB and Ethics is already covered in the existing Religious Education curriculum of Catholic primary schools and in the primary schools of some other patrons. In addition, other important aspects of the proposed ERB and Ethics curriculum are already being covered in all schools through the NCCA’s Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum; and,
- Parents, teachers and patrons across a number of different school types identified a concern which the report acknowledges the approach proposed to ERB and Ethics could undermine the ethos of faith schools.
Finally, from a students’ perspective, many denominations and others voiced concern that primary school children would be receiving mixed and conflicting messages in relation to what was being taught in their Religious Education class and in any subject area called ERB and Ethics.
CPSMA also feels that ERB and Ethics is in fact misnamed and might more appropriately be called World Views Education.
CPSMA will continue to engage in dialogue with the NCCA in an open and positive manner in the interest of all the children attending our schools.
The Catholic Primary Schools Management Association is a recognised school management association and represents all the boards of management of the over 2,900 Catholic primary schools in the Republic of Ireland. The General Secretary of the CPSMA is Mr Seamus Mulconry.