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Girls' primary schools spend more time teaching religion - study

An ESRI study examining the use of classroom time in primary schools shows boys spend more time on PE, history and geography.

An ESRI study has found that all-girls schools spend proportionately more time teaching religion.
An ESRI study has found that all-girls schools spend proportionately more time teaching religion.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

GIRLS-ONLY primary schools spend more time teaching religion than male-only counterparts, a new study of the country’s primary schools has found.

The ESRI report, ‘The Primary Classroom: Insights From The Growing Up In Ireland Study’, found a significant variation across schools in the time allotted to the teaching of particular subjects.

Boys-only schools were likely to spend more time on PE, history and geography, while girls’ schools spent longer on religious education the study said.

Aside from single-sex schools, a school’s status as being disadvantaged was also found to have an impact on the amount of time spent teaching certain subjects.

Teaching in designated disadvantaged (DEIS) schools was likely to concentrate more on English language tuition and, consequently, less on Irish.

The study noted that timetabling was also likely to be affected by a teacher’s own personal preferences or characteristics, with more experienced teachers likely to spend a greater period of time teaching the ‘big three’ subjects of English, Irish and Maths.

A teacher’s level of experience also influenced the teacher’s choice of teaching methodology, with younger teachers more likely to use ‘active methodologies’ currently taught in teacher training colleges.

These methodologies were also less prevalent in larger classes, indicating that the size of a class has a direct impact on how teachers can address their classes.

Teachers in fee-paying schools, gaelscoileanna or all-girls schools were more likely to experience such ‘active learning’ in their classrooms.

The report in full can be read on the ESRI website.

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Gavan Reilly

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