The Irish National Schools Trust was founded in 2015 to ensure the continuation of the National School system in Ireland.
In Ireland, a National School is a primary school that is financed directly by the State. The National School system is controlled by the Minister for Education and Skills. Each National School, under the absolute control of the Minister, is managed locally by the Principal, the Board of Management, and the Patron. There area approximately 3200 National Schools in Ireland. There are approximately 55 private “independent” primary schools which are not National Schools – unlike their second level counterparts, these primary level private schools receive no support from the state.
In National schools, most major policies such as the curriculum and teacher salaries and conditions are managed by the State through the Department of Education and Skills. Minor policies of the school are managed by local people, through a local Board of Management.
The concept of the National School was created by the Stanley Letter of 1831. The two pillars of the system are (I) children of all religious denominations (and none) schools go to the same school together, and (ii) religious instruction, where provided, should be carried out as a separate class, in such a way as not to interfere with the secular education of the school, and should be such as to allow a child to attend the school without attending religious instruction at that school.
Although the National School system is now one hundred and eighty four years old, the essentials of the system remain in place, with the two pillars of the system underpinned by Article 44.2.4 of the Irish Constitution.
In the past fifty years, there have been some illegal changes made in some National Schools, the Irish National Schools Trust intends to, with the help of volunteers, tackle these illegalities. The main illegalities are (I) religious discrimination in admissions policies introduced over the past fifteen years, and (ii) religious instruction integrated throughout the school, eliminating the constitutional right to not attend religious instruction.