New Report: Tipperary ETB/CTI is Failing in its Duty to Promote and Respect Human Rights

by Michael Nugent on September 9, 2017

Their Lady ETBAtheist Ireland has prepared a comprehensive report on how Tipperary Education and Training Board (ETB), through its Central Technical Institute (CTI) in Clonmel, is failing in its statutory obligation to promote and protect the rights of minorities in their schools, based on the details of a recent case at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

You can read the full report on the Teach Don’t Preach website, or else read it in PDF format at this link.

Here are the Contents of the Report and the Overview.

Contents

1. Overview

2. Status of Tipperary ETB/CTI Ethos and RE Policy

2.1 Mission Statement of Tipperary ETB
2.2 General Mission Statement of the CTI
2.3 Whole School Evaluation Report of the CTI in 2006
2.4 South Tipperary VEC Education Plan 2011-2015
2.5 Religious Education Policy of the CTI in 2014

3. How the ETB/CTI Fails to Respect Human Rights

3.1 Obligations on ETB under the IHREC Act 2014
3.2 The Religious Education Policy and the Catholic Church
3.3 Teaching of Religion in the ETB schools
3.4 Hiring of Religion teachers in Tipperary ETB/CTI
3.5 The Role of the Diocesan Advisor
3.6 The UN Human Rights Committee
3.7 Failure of the RE Policy to respect all parents’ convictions
3.8 The requirement to be objective, critical and pluralistic
3.9 The legal requirement is to not strike a balance
3.10 The Right to Opt out of Religion is not enough

4. Summary

Overview

Tipperary Education and Training Board (ETB), through its Central Technical Institute (CTI) in Clonmel, is failing in its statutory obligation to promote and protect the rights of minorities in their schools, based on the details of a recent case at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

These are some of the key points to note:

Tipperary ETB/CTI is disrespecting the religious and philosophical convictions of parents and their children.

The CTI in Clonmel is presented as an alternative to denominational schools. It is referred to as multi-denominational.

There is no indication that it has a Christian ethos on the websites of the ETB or the CTI, in the Department of Education’s Whole School Evaluation Report of the CTI in 2006, or in the South Tipperary VEC Education Plan 2011-2015.

Despite this, Tipperary ETB told the WRC that the CTI has a Christian ethos, and said that this ethos is reflected in the CTI’s Religious Education Policy as decided by the school’s Board of Management in 2014.

Tipperary ETB and its schools have an obligation to promote human rights under the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission Act 2014.

The Religious Education Policy of Tipperary ETB’s Central Technical Institute is dated 3 December 2014. This means that, whatever the status of this policy, the ETB had an obligation to ensure that it was in accordance with human rights standards (Section 42 Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission Act 2014).

Under the ETB Act 2013 responsibility for the development of policy rests with the Education and Training Board and is a reserved function. That means that the elected members of the ETB must take decisions about policy themselves. The implementation of policy is an executive function.

At this stage, there is no record of when Tipperary ETB ratified the Religious Education Policy of the CTI, as distinct from ratifying the minutes of the CTI Board. There is no information on whether Tipperary ETB took into account its obligation to promote and protect the human rights of its staff and the persons to whom it provides services.

Tipperary ETB is acting as if it is supporting the school in upholding a Christian ethos that has been decided on by the school’s Board of Management. But legally it is the ETB, as the Patron, that is responsible for deciding on the ethos. The Board of Management has no autonomy to decide on ethos. As a subcommittee of the ETB, the school’s Board of Management has a duty to uphold the ethos that has been decided by the ETB.

There is no indication when Tipperary ETB/CTI put in place the religious ethos of the school, that is referred to as a tradition by the Workplace Relations Commission in the case, and that predated the Religious Education Policy.

The WRC says that the religious ethos is reflected in the CTI’s Religious Education policy, but that policy is not published on the website of Tipperary ETB or the CTI.

The published minutes on the website of Tipperary ETB have no record of when the Religious Education Policy of the CTI was ratified, or any discussion of their obligation to protect the human rights of staff, parents and their children in schools where they are the Patron.

Even if Tipperary ETB/CTI has ratified this Religious Education Policy, that does not equate to Tipperary ETB deciding on a religious or Christian ethos for the CTI. The WRC concluded that the Christian ethos predated the Religious Education Policy, and that the Policy merely reflected the pre-existing ethos.

Whatever the status of this Religious Education Policy, and whatever the ethos of the CTI, we will show in this report how that policy and ethos fails to respect and promote respect for the human rights of minorities in the school in accordance with the obligations of Tipperary ETB/CTI under the IHREC Act.

You can read the full report on the Teach Don’t Preach website, or else read it in PDF format at this link.

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