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Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, one of Ireland's largest Catholic
teacher-training colleges says it is “unreservedly committed to catering
for students from all faith traditions and none”.
The statement comes in its submission to a review of teacher education. It comes after accusations last year, made by the Teaching Council, the professional body for teachers, that the College spent too much time on religion.
In its submission, the college says the decision by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn (pictured) to extend teacher training from three to four years gave it an opportunity to “address historical imbalances and shortfalls” in the existing three-year programme and to develop a programme that is informed by current international research in teacher education, the Irish Times reports
The Teaching Council, the professional body for teachers, has previously put forward guidelines for teachers which critics say could harm the religious ethos of schools.
Its new professional code could lead to religion teachers being found guilty of “professional misconduct” for teaching core parts of their faith such as sexual morality and the truth of their own religion.
This week an international review panel is visiting teacher-training colleges as part of the overall review of the sector.
In its submission, Mary Immaculate details how the number of contact hours allocated to religious education in its new four-year bachelor of education (B.Ed) degree is similar to that provided for art, music and drama.
In meeting the needs of contemporary Irish society, it says students taking its new B.Ed programme can opt for Christian religious education – or an alternative course designed to prepare students to teach in multidenominational, community national schools and other schools.
The student population at Mary Immaculate has grown tenfold to 3,200 in the past two decades. Last year, more than 900 students graduated from the college, of whom 500 were newly qualified teachers. This represents the highest number of graduates entering the teaching profession from any college in the State.