Community National Schools recognise parents as the primary educators of their children and as such identify them as partners in their children’s education. Community National Schools strive to ensure that parents, along with their children, experience a sense of belonging and purpose as members of the school community. Community National Schools strive to foster proactive relationships with parents to create a cohesive school community and enhance children’s learning experiences and outcomes.


CNSs are state-run, co-educational, multi-denominational primary schools underpinned by the core values of excellence in education, care, equality, community and respect. CNSs give equal opportunities to all children in the communities they serve and strive to provide high-quality, multi-denominational, equality-based education. They were established in 2008 and are under the patronage and management of local Education and Training Boards (ETBs).

Community National Schools teach the national primary school curriculum, which is taught in EVERY primary school in Ireland. This means that children in Community National Schools learn the same subjects as all other primary school children across the country! There is one key difference between what is taught in a Community National School and other denominational primary schools – your the Patron’s Curriculum. Take a look at the next section to find out more!

There are wonderful staff in primary schools across the county who help children to learn and grow.  Children in Community National Schools learn from teachers who are qualified to teach the same curriculum subjects as all other primary school teachers in Ireland!

Community National Schools receive the same amount of funding and grants as all other primary schools in Ireland!

The vast majority of schools in Ireland currently have a religious ethos. Community National Schools have a multi-denominational ethos underpinned by the core values of excellence in education, care, equality, community and respect. This means that all children are treated equally regardless of any aspect of their identity.

Community National Schools are Ireland’s only state-funded and state-run primary schools. CNSs being state-run is significant as there is a growing appetite amongst the public for the state to take responsibility for key public services e.g., health.

All Community National Schools are co-educational schools!

Religious-run schools provide a ‘faith formation’ programme in one particular religion e.g., the Catholic faith. Children in Community National Schools follow a ‘multi-belief and values education’ curriculum called Goodness Me, Goodness You! (GMGY). In this subject area, children learn about identity, values education, philosophy and different religions and beliefs, including non religious worldviews. For more information, visit the GMGY page on this website.


In Catholic schools, Catholic children are prepared for their sacraments by their classroom teachers during the school day. In a Community National School, the parish takes responsibility for this preparation. These classes take place after the school day and can be facilitated in either the parish or school building.

Community National Schools are under run by local Education and Training Boards. As ETB schools, Community National Schools benefit greatly from an inclusive school ethos which aims to enable them realise their full potential. As ETB schools, Community National Schools also benefit from a broad range of supports and services that may not be available to other schools. ETBs provide ethos, governance, educational, administrative, financial, human resources, information technology (IT), capital and building supports to schools. This has a direct impact on the children and families attending these schools, as it allows school leadership to focus on their primary task of caring for the children and leading teaching and learning.

If your child’s school is a religious-run school, it can become a Community National School through a process called “reconfiguration”. Reconfiguration  involves an existing school changing their patron. This is called a transfer of patronage. When a school transfers from the patronage of one patron to another, the school remains open (with the same roll number and operating from the same school property), with staff and pupils remaining in place.
When a religious-run school becomes a Community National School, the local bishop transfers the patronage of the school to the local ETB, who take over the running of the school and supports the school community with establishing a multi-denominational ethos. Lots of parents are interested in having their child’s school become a Community National School because of their inclusive ethos and focus on excellence in education!

The Department of Education is currently undertaking a national campaign to provide more multi-denominational schools in Ireland through a “Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity Process”. To learn more about reconfiguration process, visit the Department of Education website here.

If your child’s school is exploring or working through the process of becoming a Community National School (CNS), read our “Becoming a CNS: Information for Parents” pack to find out what this process might mean for your child and their school! 


For more information on what becoming a Community National School means for your child and their school, read our “Becoming a Community National School: Information for Parents” information booklet.

For more information on how your child’s school could become a Community National School, fill out the express your interest form below to get in touch with YOUR local ETB!