Christian groups overwhelmingly dominate visits to NI primary schools, report reveals

23 May, 2024

A major report has established for the first time that 99.9% of external visits to Northern Ireland primary schools by religious or humanist groups are by Christian groups. Only 13 of the 11,522 visits between 6 November 2022 and 5 November 2023 were by others. The report was compiled by a new group, Parents for Inclusive Education NI, and has been welcomed by Northern Ireland Humanists as shining a light on the lack of inclusivity in Northern Ireland schools.

The report, On a Mission, is based on 772 freedom of information requests sent by the group to every primary school in Northern Ireland, asking which organisations were given access to schools, how this was managed, and how schools communicated this with parents. The report finds that religious organisations are provided extensive access to schools. It also shows that 48% of schools did not inform parents of the visits, and 38% aren’t meeting their legal obligations to publish in their prospectuses how parents can withdraw their children from such activities.

Parents for Inclusive Education is a grassroots campaign group of primary school parents in Northern Ireland, advocating for a more inclusive education system that respects and includes all children regardless of their faith or belief. The group aims to empower parents, support schools, and challenge policymakers to enhance transparency and inclusivity in education. Northern Ireland Humanists has supported Parents for Inclusive Education since its inception in 2023.

Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator commented:

‘This is an incredibly important piece of work which shines a light on just how overwhelmingly Christian visitors to Northern Ireland schools are. This should be a serious cause for concern. Schools should make sure young people get a much broader education.

‘It is vital that every young person receives an education about different religions and humanism that is critical, objective, and pluralistic. Only this will enable them to explore their own beliefs and learn about the beliefs of others. In light of this report we think the Northern Ireland Government should issue guidance to all schools, explaining their duties in this regard.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator at or phone 07918 975795.

Read the report here

See the visualisation of school visits here

Read more about Northern Ireland Humanists

Northern Ireland Humanists is part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.