Less than half of teachers teach religion willingly


Less than half of primary school teachers teach religion willingly in schools across the State, a new survey has found.

The research, carried out by the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) and released today, also shows more than 70 per cent of primary teachers are spending more time preparing students for religious sacraments than officially allowed for in the curriculum.

The time allocation suggested for religious instruction by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is 2.5 hours per week. According to the survey, schools are going over this time allocation by anything from 30 minutes per week to nine hours per week.

In a similar survey conducted by the INTO in 2002 only 20 per cent of teachers reported time overruns in sacramental preparation.

The findings are part of an INTO survey on Religion in Primary School that was conducted by the INTO Equality Committee in October/November 2012. The survey mirrors a similar survey carried out in 2002 by the union.

In addition to the extra time spent on sacramental preparation during the school day, teachers reported spending between half an hour and 10 hours per week on sacramental preparation outside of school hours.

Approximately 10 per cent of teachers surveyed stated that they would prefer to teach a broad religious education programme and not to teach religious instruction in a particular faith. This figure has doubled in a decade. Nine out of 10 teachers surveyed work in denominational schools.

There was also an increase in those “not opposed” to teaching religion compared to 2002, from 12 to 20 per cent.

About two-thirds of teachers surveyed supported the teaching of religion during school hours, a 20 per cent decrease on the 2002 result.

Eighty per cent of schools in the survey have pupils attending who are not of the faith of the school. The approach to provision for these pupils varied from school to school with some participating in the full religious programme and sacraments and others participating in the full religious programme but not partaking in sacramental preparation.

Overall only 49 per cent of the 363 teachers surveyed stated they teach religion “willingly”.