Two primary and three post primary including Firhouse Educate Together National School achieved Yellow Flag status at a ceremony to mark their efforts in tackling racism and promoting inclusion of all cultures, ethnicities and religions at an online event opened by Minister for Education Norma Foley and hosted by RTE Presenter and author of The Same but Different, Emer O’Neill. To be awarded schools must complete 8 steps of the intercultural Programme which aims to improve educational outcomes for all children through a learning environment where diversity is valued and celebrated. Part of their efforts must include establishing a Diversity Committee of students, parents and teachers, a research survey of inclusion issues, a teacher workshop, the development of an anti-racism policy and classroom-based work. Following a positive assessment schools receive a flag to be raised outside their building, signaling to the wider community it is an inclusive anti-racist environment.
Over half of all students from the five 2022 awardee schools said they had witnessed racism within schools and over 1 in 4 had experienced it. Molly Martin Brady, coordinator of the Programme said; “The Awards Ceremony is an occasion to showcase the work done by schools and officially welcome them to the Yellow Flag Community of 103 schools nationally. Yellow Flag is a proven model of change but is only available to pupils lucky enough to attend a school that opts into the Programme, as currently there is no direct State investment, which demotes anti-racism and inclusion to a luxury for a few, rather than a necessity for all. Today’s schools are evidence of what’s possible through a whole school approach to meaningful intercultural education”
Receiving their school’s flag, student Lee Buivids of Firhouse Educate Together National School said: “If you are in an environment where diversity is present and celebrated everywhere, you will begin to celebrate as well”.
Bernard Joyce Director of the Irish Traveller Movement out of which the Programme was innovated in 2009 said “The National Action Plan Against Racism is currently being developed under the guidance of the Minister with responsibility Roderic O’Gorman, and it is hoped Yellow Flag will be resourced under that plan as a school learning model for all children.”
Anti-racism and intercultural learning across primary and post primary curricula in Ireland is not mandatory and remains at the discretion of individual teachers, who in turn, do not receive obligatory and standardised anti-racism training. To date 41,472 students, 3,292 teachers, and pupils of 70 nationalities and ethnicities, have benefited from Yellow Flag.