The Catholic Preschool and Primary Education Curriculum for Ireland and Religious Education was launched along with the Grow in Love programme, in Lissivigeen school, Killarney, last Wednesday 23rd September, at 11.30. Present there was Bishop Ray Browne, school chaplain Fr. Kieran O’Brien, representatives of the Board of Magement and the Parents Association, Principal Michael Mc Auliffe, teachers, pupils, ancillary staff and Primary Diocesan Advisors. A beautiful song filled prayer service brought the programme to life.
This is the first time in the history of primary religious education that teachers have been offered, in the form of a Curriculum, a structured outline of religious education as an academic discipline. Prior to this teachers taught religious education from a series of Religious Education programmes, including the Children of God series and most recently the Alive-O programme.
Bishop Ray had this to say:
This Autumn we have two important new publications: the Curriculum for Religious Education in Primary Schools, and the first two books of GROW IN LOVE, (the new programme from Veritas to teach that Curriculum). We gather in one school in one parish, our thoughts and prayers are with all schools in all the parishes of the diocese of Kerry.
It is a time of great challenge for us all. Handing on the faith and teaching religion is a three-way partnership between, home, parish and school. In the home and in the parish community, children first become aware of God and his great love for us, and the beautiful world God has created.
Parents teach children their first prayers. The school provides education in the faith. Thank God for the great work of our teachers. We owe them a debt of gratitude. While at school the children’s faith continues to be nourished by their families and their parish. The parish is where all worship. The parish has responsibility for the children receiving the sacraments.
Today is a day for home, parish and school to recommit to working together in partnership. God is calling all of us to dedicate ourselves to strengthening the faith in our homes and communities. It is both our privilege and our responsibility to hand on our faith to our children. May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us, she who taught Jesus his first prayers.
The purpose of the curriculum is to guide and inform the teaching of pre-school and primary religious education. It has been devised on the basis of the partnership between home, school and parish. It is dynamic, involving a spiralling and progressive life-long movement of faith and life, insight and love.
The curriculum uses an outcomes approach, emphasising the educational alignment between religious education and the other six areas of the NCCA Primary School Curriculum (1999) for the Republic of Ireland. The Curriculum is addressed to teachers, principals, trustees and Bishops as patrons of Catholic Schools. Its development is very important for parents.
Grow in Love, (Veritas) is the newly published religious education programme based on the new Curriculum and is currently being used in all Junior and Senior Infants classes in our schools this year. The programme will be rolled out to the other classes over the next three years. The programme is being developed to support teachers in their implementation of the curriculum.
The children’s Grow in Love textbooks are designed to be used in school and at home, and each week, families are asked to help their children to do something related to ‘Grow in Love’ for homework. The text books give the parents the resources to do this. This is in line with a vision of Catholic education that sees the home, school and parish working together in the religious education of children. It will be welcomed by parents and priests, teachers and Boards of Managements of Catholic schools.
This new Curriculum and the Grow in Love programme will provide a new impetus for the religious education and faith formation of children in our schools in the diocese.