Hanafin calls for faith teaching partnership


Minister for Education Mary Hanafin has called for a two-pronged approach to religious learning to assist co-operation between parents and school teachers in order to help develop children's faith.

"Personally, obviously I would believe that parents should be involved in the whole faith element, of ethos, of values that they want their children to have," she said.

"A partnership with the schools is the way to go."

A debate over the relationship between schools and churches was sparked last week after principals said they wanted preparation for first Holy Communion and Confirmation taken out of the classroom and handed over to parents.

They claimed it was time for churches to pull back from front line involvement in the provision of education in a modern, secular, multi-cultural society.

The controversy continued when Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte called for an end to Church control of more than 3,000 primary schools around the country. Ms Hanafin accepted there were a number of arguments being put forward on the issue, but insisted splitting the role of churches and schools would be a backward step.

"One argument is people saying they should not be teaching the sacraments and the other is Pat Rabbitte saying that the churches should move out of involvement in school management," the Minister told RTE Radio.

"If Pat Rabbitte wants to be Henry VIII and force them all to surrender I think it would be a very, very retrograde step."

Meanwhile, the Minister insisted performance league tables would not be published while she held the office.

"I don't believe that results give any indication of the value of the school, or the value of the education, and I have no doubt that if you went down that road that then would become the sole focus, whereas in fact I want people to see the whole education," she said.

Ms Hanafin also urged principals and primary school teachers to highlight the plus side of teaching to attract more men to the job.

"If you are going to do that, you are going to do it with honey. You have to highlight the good things about the job, the fact that it is a very fulfilling leadership role and not be concentrating on the negative," she said.