In the Republic of Ireland nearly all primary schools are state-funded but the vast majority of these schools are owned and managed by religious bodies. There is no system of state-run schools. This paper discusses the protection of freedom of religion within this unique system of schooling. In particular, it examines the notion of ‘the integrated curriculum’ whereby all schools in receipt of state funding are legally obliged to ensure that a religious spirit informs and vivifies the whole work of the school. The paper identifies the international human rights standards relevant to the teaching of religion in schools. Through empirical evidence based on interviews with parents, teachers and pupils, an assessment is made of how far Irish law and practice respect these standards. The outcome of this evaluation of the use of religious bodies in non-state service provision is discussed.