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Fionola Meredith

Why do churches have a right to run our schools?

Fionola Meredith


Governance should be about ability, not inherited power

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Old system: a new report says the way schools are run here effectively reinforces community divisions

Old system: a new report says the way schools are run here effectively reinforces community divisions

Old system: a new report says the way schools are run here effectively reinforces community divisions

Almost all schools in Northern Ireland are paid for by the state. So why should churches, as of right, have an automatic role in the education of our children? Like many fundamental questions, it's rarely posed. It's just how things are, and always have been, since the establishment of the state.

Maybe it's time to start asking, however. A new report from the Unesco centre of education at Ulster University suggests that the way schools are governed effectively reinforces community divisions.

Historic vested interests mean that the Protestant and Catholic churches have the school system very neatly divided up between them. The boards of state-controlled schools are legally required to include a number of representatives from the Protestant churches. Likewise, Catholic trustees have guaranteed places on the boards of Catholic maintained schools.