Child education providers across Ireland are struggling to fill their vacancies, despite the fact that the majority of their students attend Catholic schools.
A new report, which will be presented to the National Council of Catholic Education (NCCE), paints a bleak picture for parents, with over a quarter of Catholic primary schools reporting a shortfall of students between the ages of two and four.
The report, entitled Children in Schools and the NCCE Report 2016, outlines the difficulties faced by Catholic schools across the country, which is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
In 2016, the number of children enrolled in Catholic primary and secondary schools in Ireland was around 11,000.
The figures for 2016 are based on data from the Department of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (DCYSS), and reflect only the number enrolled in primary schools, where the numbers were lower at 6,000 and 6,400 respectively.
The report also includes figures for the number attending a Catholic secondary school, which was slightly lower at 1,000, while for primary schools the figures were slightly higher at 686,000 students.
There are also differences between Catholic schools and secular schools, with the NCE finding that in 2016, a larger percentage of secular secondary schools were Catholic schools than in the previous year.
However, this has not translated into a higher proportion of students attending secular secondary school.
The NCCS, which administers all forms of Catholic education, says it is working to fill the gaps in the supply of Catholic secondary and tertiary schools across all provinces, but this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
The Catholic Church in Ireland (CCI) says it will take a holistic approach to improving education, in order to ensure the quality of education is maintained.
“In 2016, it was the highest proportion of children attending Catholic schools in the country.
We have a very, very good record of delivering quality education.
But we can’t keep up with demand, because we don’t have enough teachers, we don’ t have enough staff and there are a lot of barriers,” said CCI’s education spokesman, Paul Connolly.”
We will not continue to make a case that there are too many Catholic schools, and that we should be focusing on Catholic schools for the next generation.”
It is difficult for parents to understand the difficulties facing Catholic school students, who are frequently told that their school is the only Catholic school in town.
“There are lots of Catholic schools that have no children at all, and they’re not going to tell you why.
They’re just telling you because they’re Catholic,” said Marie Binnie, a mother from Cork who was unable to attend her daughter’s primary school.
In 2016 the NCDE report showed that more than one in five children enrolled at a Catholic school attended a religious school.
This is despite the high number of Catholic children attending secular schools.
In addition to these difficulties, the NCPE report found that children enrolled into Catholic primary school were more likely to have lower socio-economic status than their non-Catholic counterparts.
It found that, overall, children enrolled as Catholic in primary school had higher income, but these figures were lower in Catholic secondary schools.
The main reason for this is that parents are more likely than non-parents to attend a Catholic primary or secondary school for reasons such as the availability of teachers and a school ethos.
The National Council for Catholic Education said the report shows that Catholic schools are struggling in a challenging market.
“There is a significant demand for Catholic primary education in Ireland, and there is an urgent need for Catholic schools to be able to meet this demand.
The Catholic Church is committed to ensuring that Catholic primary is a safe, effective, and accessible place for all children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Cathal O’Sullivan, president of the NCCCE.
“But it is equally important that parents have a say in where their children go to school, and in what school they will attend.”