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Irish state schools drop their religious ethos in move towards inclusive schooling

A number of Irish state schools have dropped their religious ethos in favour of being integrated schools that welcome children from all religion and belief backgrounds, in a positive move towards inclusive education in Ireland.

Humanists UK, which campaigns for an inclusive education system with no religious discrimination, has described the schools’ moves as ‘welcome’ and shows that it is possible for the same to happen in schools across the UK.

This week it was announced that a Church of Ireland school in County Wexford along with two Catholic schools in Country Kerry and one in County Roscommon are dropping their religious ethos in a move to retain and draw pupils from non-religious backgrounds. Some of the schools have replaced religious instruction with a multi-belief and values programme.

In one school, Scoil an Ghleanna, a third of its pupils are non-religious, and the school’s principal said it had to re-examine the school’s ethos to ensure the longevity of the school’s survival.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented: ‘This move toward more inclusive public schools in Ireland is very welcome and shows that it makes sense to welcome children from all religious and humanist backgrounds so that they can play and learn together.

‘It is also encouraging to see schools adopt an integrated ethos instead of a religious ethos so that students receive a broad and balanced education without undue religious influence.

‘These promising developments in Ireland send a message to the governments of the UK that we can do this too. We should start by ending religious discrimination in our admissions system, including getting rid of 100% religiously selective schools.’


For more information, contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Read our news item on the Government’s recent approval of 100% selective faith schools. 

Find out more about our faith schools campaign work.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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