Educate Together Model favoured by Cllr Shortt

COUNCILLOR Tom Shortt favours the use of the Educate Together model of school patronage.
He was responding to a call from the Diocese of Limerick for professionals to take up vacant positions on school boards.
At present just two schools in Limerick use the Educate Together model, but Cllr Shortt holds the view there is room for growth.

“I have believed for over 25 years that the Educate Together model of patronage of primary schools is the more realistic and appropriate model which acknowledges and accommodates changes in Irish society.
“The model recognises diversity with regard to religious belief as no one religion is promoted in the classroom. In essence, there is freedom of religion for families. Children can attend denominational instruction after normal school hours”.
The Labour councillor said professionals are needed on school boards, with religious domination of education on the wane.
Cllr Shortt, an art teacher at Scoil Carmel on O’Connell Avenue, has served on the board of management of the multi-denominational Limerick School’s Project.
“It is a huge responsibility. You may not see the Board of Management, but it is very much how a school operates”.
He has been an increase in social capital in recent times, and the call made by the Diocese of Limerick, he added, would appeal to people.
“There is an enormous amount of voluntary work involved in running a school.
“The expertise of a professional, like a solicitor or an accountant, would be of major benefit.
“Should schools be moving towards a more multi-denominational ethos? Should the ethos of schools be re-examined? These are questions we need to look at.
“I think it’s a refection of the times we live, and opens up the broader issue of governance of schools.
“This shows a changing climate in the country and we need to recognise that religious practices are changing”.
He favours the multi-denominational format.
“I was very involved in getting the multi-denominational movement off the ground in Limerick.
“Many are advancing the Educate Together project at the moment”.
According to him, the Educate Together model offers a lot.
“This experience prepares children to participate in the modern Ireland which is both pluralist and multi cultural, and is a practical way of teaching them to respect people of other religious and cultural backgrounds as equals.
“It also encourages greater democracy with greater parental responsibility and involvement in the running of the school. The seats on the boards are filled entirely by parents and teachers. In my opinion, parents should consider this model”.