Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Protestant cleric backs joint classes with Catholics

Schools run jointly by the Protestant and Catholic churches could help build a shared future in Northern Ireland, a senior cleric has said.

“It is a thought that has worked elsewhere. It’s an idea that’s worth considering,” the Rev Ian Ellis suggested.

The Church of Ireland minister is secretary of the Transferor Representatives' Council which helps oversee Protestant education in the controlled sector.

“The idea is that there may be a situation in smaller villages where a controlled and a |maintained school could be closing because of dwindling numbers and instead of bussing both sets of pupils to separate schools in the nearest town, why could those two schools not come together as a jointly managed school with a common aim,” explained Rev Ellis.

Although many schools |already share classes and other resources, the proposal would |see institutions run with an overarching Christian ethos, but separate teaching for Catholic sacraments and other doctrinal differences.

Rev Ellis said: “What we were hoping to see was that we can preserve a Christian faith ethos within a jointly-managed school.

“What we would have to try and establish is a solidly Christian ethos promoting Christian values but there would be streams where Catholic children receive preparation for the sacraments and |non-Catholics receive an education in keeping with the core |syllabus they have reached in other policies, and we ask could it be a potential solution for the future?”

However, no formal proposals have been made to the Catholic Church as the idea is at an exploratory stage.

Background

A recent Ipsos Mori poll showed the public aspires to sharing and supports integrated education. Almost nine-in-10 people favour integrated schools. Nine-in-10 also feel integrated education is important for peace and reconciliation.

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