Investigating the perceptions of primary school communities in the Republic of Ireland regarding their Catholic identity
Mahon, Elaine (2017) Investigating the perceptions of primary school communities in the Republic of Ireland regarding their Catholic identity. Doctor of Education thesis, Dublin City University.
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At primary level, there is a predominance of Catholic schools; approximately 89.9% in the school year 2015/2016 (DES, 2016). At one time, this reflected the religiosity of Irish society. Now, with approximately 16% of the population describing themselves as being from a faith tradition other than Catholic (CSO, 2011), there is a rightful demand for more diversity in the provision of primary education. This call has also led to a questioning – from both within the Catholic school system and from outside – about the nature of Irish Catholic primary schools. The aim of this research is to develop a typology or characterisation of the religious identity of Irish Catholic primary schools. This objective is built on the presupposition that the Catholic character of these schools spans a spectrum rather than being a single definable entity. In order to develop such a system of classification, data were gathered from eight Catholic school communities in one Diocese in the Republic of Ireland. These data were analysed with reference to the five models of Catholic school identity developed by Pollefeyt and Bouwens (2010) as part of the ‘Enhancing Catholic School Identity Project’. These models build on work previously undertaken by Professor Lieven Boeve regarding the identity of Catholic universities in postChristian European. The dissertation concludes by proposing a model for the religious identity of Catholic primary schools in the Republic of Ireland, and by considering the implications of this work for the patrons of these schools.
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