Several rural primary schools facing closure reopening under new patron
A number of rural primary schools are set to reopen under a new patron.
One Church of Ireland school and three Catholic schools are giving up their religious ethos and becoming multi-denominational State-run community national schools.
The change of patron is in a bid to keep the schools open after almost facing closure recently. All three Irish schools have a very small student population with none of them exceeding 20 pupils.
Kilnamanagh NS, Oulart, Co Wexford, along with Lecarrow NS, Co Roscommon, and Scoil an Ghleanna NS, Ballinskelligs and Tahilla NS, both in Co Kerry have all experienced a serious decline in numbers over recent years.
The schools feel that many parents are looking for more diversity and less focus on religion and are opting to send their children non-denominational schools rather than Catholic or Church of Ireland.
As a parent myself I've definitely noticed a big change in the number of children opting out of religion in school. My son is currently in a class of ten children, most of whom are either other atheist or following a faith other than Christianity. He's recently just entering Second class and I honestly don't know if his school, which was once run by the Christian Brothers, will be taking part in Communion.
Many schools are now leaving it up to parents to prepare their children for sacraments like Communion outside of school time with the help of their local parish. This may be the case with my son's class and if so I'll leave the decision up to him whether or not he wants to celebrate his Communion.
With an increase in schools becoming mixed gender and non-denominational it may not be long before all Irish schools start to follow suit and become more akin to other public schools in Europe and the United States.