Community National Schools: Ethos, Core Values, GMGY

Community National Schools (CNSs) are state, co-educational, multidenominational primary schools underpinned by five core values: Excellence in Education, Care, Equality, Community and Respect. CNSs are under the patronage of the local Education and Training Boards (ETBs). CNSs give equal opportunities to all children in the communities they serve and strive to provide high quality education through respectful, positive, supportive and responsive learning environments.

In our 2016 WSE 99% of parents said they feel welcome in our school

Community National Schools are part of the State’s response to an increasing diversity in Irish society. There is a growing demand amongst parents for the State to provide more choice of school types other than single-denominational models. There is also a growing demand in Ireland for publicly-managed primary schools as up until now, they have been publicly-funded but privately-managed. The development of Community National Schools answers both demands and represents a very exciting and welcome evolution in Irish education. With a long history of excellence in primary education acknowledged world-wide, the Irish State is yet again breaking ground with this new model of primary school that recognises and celebrates the identity of all children equally.

Local ETBs are the patrons of Community National Schools. ETBs are statutory authorities with responsibility for Community National Schools, 245 post-primary schools, and a wide range of adult and further education and training centres and services. They have developed an excellent reputation for their provision of inclusive, innovative, high quality education that meets the needs of the entire community.

As ETB schools, Community National Schools benefit greatly from a broad range of supports and services from the local ETB. ETBs provide governance, educational, administrative, financial, Human Resources and Information Technology (IT) supports to schools. This has a direct impact on the children and families attending these schools, as it allows school leadership to focus on their primary task of leading teaching and learning. This ensures the highest standard of excellence in our schools. ETBs can also provide a valuable service to the parents of children attending CNSs through their adult education programmes.

Community National Schools strive to provide all students with equal opportunities to engage with the curriculum and school life. In all aspects of school life all members of our school communities are treated equitably regardless of their race, gender, religion/belief, age, family status, civil status, membership of the Traveller community, sexual orientation, ability or socio-economic status. Our schools provide a safe physical and social environment that reinforces a sense of belonging to the school community and wider society. They strive to enable every student to realise their full potential regardless of any aspect of their identity or background. Our schools promote a fully inclusive education that recognises the plurality of identities, beliefs and values held by students, parents and staff.

Like all primary schools in Ireland, Community National Schools follow the Primary School Curriculum (DE, 1999). As CNSs have a multi-denominational ethos, children also engage in a multi-belief and values education curriculum, Goodness Me, Goodness You! (GMGY).

Goodness Me, Goodness You! (GMGY) is the patrons’ curriculum for Community National Schools (CNSs). It is the curricular expression of ETB Ethos and Core Values and is an integral part of teaching and learning in CNSs. GMGY is a multi-belief and values education curriculum that aims to enable “children to be active citizens in their local and global community, to think critically and imaginatively about the world around them, to share their beliefs and values, and to encounter the beliefs and values of others in a learning environment of enquiry and respect” (GMGY, 2018, p. 7). The aims of GMGY are explored through four strands; My Stories, We Are A CNS, Thinking Time and Beliefs and Religions. The curriculum, developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) in collaboration for CNSs, ETBs and ETBI, was launched in October 2018 in the Department of Education.

For more information on the CNS model visit www.cns.ie or follow @CNSIreland on Twitter