The latest paper in the Ulster University “Transforming Education” project has been published, turning a spotlight on the influence of religion in NI schools.
“Transforming Education” shares the findings of academic research through a series of accessible briefing papers illustrated by infographics. The project aims to examine and illuminate issues which reinforce the segregated nature of the education system.
The paper, Religion and Education by Dr Matt Milliken is the second in the series. It highlights the role the four main Christian churches play in many aspects of the NI education system. Church representatives not only draw up the RE syllabus for schools but also have places on governing and management bodies and planning authorities.
The new report is based on an examination of changing demographics and an analysis of how religion has moulded the system, historically and to the present day. It also includes interviews with teachers working in different sectors.
The report asks whether the close relationship between churches and schools is still appropriate and whether compulsory Christian worship in schools reflects the culture and demographics of modern life in NI.
The first paper in the series, Employment Mobility of Teachers and the FETO Exception drew attention to the lack of protection for teachers from religious discrimination in employment matters.
In the coming months more papers will be produced including some using mapping data to examine patterns of duplicated provision in primary schools and the reality of parental choice when it comes to access to schools. Other topics will include the teacher education system in NI and travel and transport issues related to education. The UU School of Education has received funding from the IEF, the UNESCO Centre and the Community Foundation to support publication of the research.
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