Diversity in Primary Teaching
The Teaching Council hold a conference every year called Féilte. One of the topics up for discussion was Diversity in Teaching. The panel consisted of 4 educators, two of whom were primary school teachers. The first lives with a physical disability and the second is a member of the LGBTi community. The third level representatives were Phd researchers. One was from the Traveller Community and the other seemed to be leading the research. I’m not quite sure if she was supposed to be the voice for a minority but she started her conversation discussing the trouble she had getting her kids into a school because they aren’t baptised. I think they may have not been able to find a teacher from a minority religious background and this might have been the closest they could get, though perhaps I’m being a bit skeptical.
However, for me, this may very well have been one of the most important discussions at Féilte 2016. Diversity in teaching is almost non-existent, particularly at primary level. It is initially joked that the entire panel was the extent of the diversity of teachers in Ireland. I don’t think they were wrong.
There are moments where the video almost touches on religious diversity and I would have loved to have seen more of this. One thing that both the primary school teachers had as an advantage was that they clearly had no difficulty getting to teach in a denominational school setting. I believe the biggest barrier to teaching in primary schools in Ireland is this. We have seen today that the Catholic Church have effectively vetoed any possibility that diversity can be taught in our primary schools. Because of its power, the NCCA have admitted that there really is nothing they can do to introduce their ethical education programme. I can imagine the outrage if the Catholic church refused to teach about physical disability or even LGBT issues but it is likely that this refusal will get one column today and we won’t hear about it again. In any case, congratulations to the Teaching Council for running this discussion forum. You can watch the video below.