MCW - €4.5k per pupil, per year subsidy to private schools


It is a shameless example of “separate development”. ‘Carve me out my tax dollars so I can segregate my kids’.

**And spare me the lesson on South Africa. **

No, I won’t, because it was your thick comparison.
Despite the fact that I actually agree with your basic tenet.


Are you advocating the UK system or not? There is a much more unequal education system there (from bottom to top) because private schools are MORE exclusive.

You keep dancing around the issues. Further up you were disputing taxpayer value, which I addressed with a model you have provided no alternative to. You’ve then backed off to ridiculous comparisons with apartheid in South Africa.

Here’s a suggestion: if you think there is €50m/yr or whatever kicking around in the public finances to spend on state-educating refugees from the private education system, why not just spend that on state schools and leave the private schools alone?

You may as well admit that your position is dogmatic and that you don’t care about taxpayer value or educational outcomes, you just want everyone to have the same thing.


Beaurocracy = administration by good-looking people. 8)


You say “dogmatic” Firstbass says it “weird” to oppose. Yet this is a system almost no one else uses in the world copies. I’m fine with parents choosing to pay for private education (in full) I just can’t see how they get away with carve out of their taxes to do it.

It is you who is dancing around the issue - You didn’t address why you almost doubled the forecast cost of private education in Ireland from its current gross cost.

As I’ve repeatedly implied thoughout this thread, the economic case is not the only determining factor. Parents who partially pay for private schools have said they pay extra because of various euphemisms like “they value education more” etc. For parents who cannot afford the premium to segregate and in fact who see part of the general education budget paid to assist other people in segregating…the current situation is manifestly unfair.

Private schools in the UK may be more exclusive. That’s fine -The parents are paying in full. Everyone in the UK obviously must grasp that you don’t automatically get to carve out your tax dollars for education. Most of the rest of the world understands this basic principle too. You don’t.


The majority of voluntary schools in Ireland are not elitist. They’re a sinkhole for misguided parents to partially fund their children’s education in the hope that they’re giving them a leg up. They’re not.

I went to a private school in Cork that doesn’t score any better, or in some cases as highly, as other free schools in the area. The only people I know who think there’s an associated advantage are people who didn’t go there, who’s kids are/were first generation going there (my mother thinks like this), and people working off 50 year old information.

The elite of Irish society is not founded in private schools. The elite is mix of 80% autocracy and 20% meritocracy. Going to a private school doesn’t mean you inherit the earth, neither is it a fast track through the meritocracy.

I was speaking to a fella one day who said he didn’t know anyone who’d been to a private school until he got to college, and he was shocked that they were just normal fellas, and that they even had ‘normal accents’ (Cork). I mean, who did he think was attending private schools? There isn’t that many wealthy families in Cork.

Out of my group in school the predominant parental occupation was teacher. I can assure you we had no notions about position in society. Most of my friends from school don’t want to send their kids into private education, because we all know that it’s just an illusion and a waste of money. Only the first generational entrants think it’s a leg up, the rest just send their kids by default because they went there themselves. That’s why these schools swelled in the boom - you send your kid to private school and bought two gaffs and fast forward 30 years into joining the elite. Nonsense.

The counterproductive moves to reduce funding to these schools will cost the state more. But the “it’s someone else’s fault I’ve a shit (or no) career and crap pay” brigade think they’re breaking down the ‘barriers’ to their success.



Secondary schooling in Ireland was not always free, until the 60s all schools charged fees. When Donagh O’Malley introduced free secondary education some schools opted in to the free scheme and got higher levels of subvention than those that did not. The system has functioned in this way for the past 50 years and works pretty well: the teachers are provided by the department for all schools, so there is equality in teaching; free schools have all support staff and building paid for by the state, while those that charge fees provide there own support staff (admin, grounds, etc) and are responsible for their own capital building programme. Withdrawing all financial support from fee-charging schools is not just a thing to do on a whim, it represents a total re-drawing of the education system as it has been for half a century. It will be very costly and I have yet to see any sort of convincing argument why it would be a good thing for the country.

The reality is that if you live in Dublin and want to send your kids to a school that is co-ed, non catholic, and with a good infrastructure and academic reputation, your options are severely limited. I’d love to be sending the kids to a free school, I don’t pay out all that money because I love spending money. The sort of school I pay for is pretty standard in most countries - the all weather pitch and the science labs and the other facilities are what you’d see in a decent middle class american high school or State school in the UK.

Two canards to nail

Myth 1. all fee-charging schools are elitist and segregationist

This is the results of a survey of Protestant fee-charging schools taken last year, if you look at the income spread of parents you will see that the kids there mix with children from all financial backgrounds. You will also see that the main reasons that people choose these schools are because of things like ethos, mixed gender, religion, and subject choice. Friends and family going there and sport are bottom in the list. People may prefer to believe that all kids are Ross OCarroll-Kelly but that is a stereotype, a caricature.

Myth 2. We are the only country that does this

France has a similar system. France with its Liberte, Equalite and Fraternite. There may be others, in fact it seems a lot more likely to assume that there are others like it when you can show two countries having evolved such a system. On examination of Ireland and its two nearest neighbours (UK and France) you could say that a majority 67% have such a system of part-funded education :wink:

And as for the ‘carve out your taxes’ argument: why shouldn’t I? Really, I pay out over half my income in taxes, the only thing that I get in return is education for my kids and (touch wood) a very limited experience with the health system. If I choose to top up what the government provides to the school, from my taxes, to pay the teachers, why the hell shouldn’t I?


So, the interesting game they’re playing in Kilkenny seems to be:

1 - Reduce income by the private fees of X per child
2 - Increase income from the greater public subsidy of Y

and the immediate follow-on is going to be

3 - Try and make up X-Y via “voluntary” donations

Why this is a good thing:
Children of families who can’t afford X can now go to the school and either pay Y, or nothing at all if they’re either poor or have a brass neck and resist the requests for voluntary donations. This provides better access to the school, not based on wealth.

Why this is a bad thing:

  • The school will not be able to accurately budget its income as the amount of the voluntary donation could vary quite a bit from year to year
  • Since the donation will be “voluntary”, rich parents will not necessarily pay more than poor parents. There is no way for the school to know whether someone’s struggling or just tight. So this is not really efficient or even fair.

There has to be a better way. For example, look at the way 3rd level fees go in the US (not that the US education model is a good example in general, but bare with me…). In many places it goes like this:

  • Fees are 30k/year
  • 20% of students get a 100% scholarship covering tuition, room and board, based on need (based on need and achievement)
  • 20% of students get a partial scholarship of 50% of fees (based on need and achievement)
  • 20% of students get a scholarship of 25% of fees (based on need and achievement)
  • 10% of students get full or partial scholarships from particular funds set up by past pupils, e.g. the Joe Bloggs Scholarship for people from Clonakilty.

So most people are not actually paying the full fees. This has the advantage that the school knows exactly what its income will be. Of course, it requires a lot more admin as people have to apply for the scholarships, prove a needs etc.


Very well said.

I do worry that it’s a waste of money to send the kids there and we are first generation to do it. As I said elsewhere though, the choices for mixed non-RC schools are fairly limited in Dublin, as txirimiri’s recent thread demonstrated. In SCD it’s Newpark or… Newpark. And I’d read some quite mixed opinions of that school.

I don’t even think I’m giving the kids a ‘leg up’ - I think I am giving them a happy childhood in a positive environment that is developing them to be well-rounded young adults when they emerge. So far, that part is going to plan.


Just to address this point, as it seems to be a widespread belief (particularly among people who did not attend private school).

In a well-run “private” school, your money pays for 2 things

  1. Facilities, facilities, facilities
  2. A few extra teachers

So, if you feel that things like swimming pool, sports hall, lots of soccer/rugby/whatever pitches, modern computer facilities and a wide choice of sports and clubs are important, then private schools may be money well spent.

If you think it’s going to get your son/daughter an extra 100 points in the LC, you need to think about:

  1. the ethos of the school and the headmaster/headmistress is far more important than the money they have, and
  2. why are you so hung up on LC points anyway?

I am considering sending my son to a private junior school because I’m blown away by the facilities. It will probably not benefit him academically, but he’ll have a great time :slight_smile:


Not quite the way I see it. It has been said that Ireland is a country where tu’pence ha’penny looks down on tu’pence.

A big percentage of school leavers go onto third level education, so most schools can deliver an effective Leaving Cert programme. But what about vocational schools? What about their students? How invisible are they? Even as I type this I realise how seldom anything is said about this sector of education.

Compare and contast a fee paying school with a vocational school.

Compare and contrast the lives of both student groups.


I’d be interested to see the measures. It’s probably including stuff like “more likely to go on to 3rd level education”, which is not mutually exclusive from “parents more likely to encourage 3rd level education”, which is not mutually exclusive from “parents more likely to send someone to a private school”.

Secondly, not content with having forked out a fortune on private school, about 40-50 from my leaving cert year would walk out the side gate and go straight up to Bruce College for parent-provided grind schools. I had grinds for my leaving cert in 4 out of 8 subjects. There wasn’t some magic formula of private school + modern facilities = points. It was a combination of some good teachers (and plenty of crap ones) + grinds for the subjects I was too lazy to apply myself in. My poor mother was herself giving 12-15 grinds per week to pay for private schooling, and then having to fork out for grinds (along with her own time spent on me where applicable) on top of it to get the actual education rounded off.

The money available for grinds, and parental attitudes to education in general (checking homework, insisting on good results etc) are the real differentiators when it comes to education in this country. The kids in a school in a poor area have all the same access to education, but none of the engagement and none of the funds to top up with grinds.

Neither kids going on to 3rd level education, nor even academic results, are accurate performance measures for a school in an affluent area, or for private schools.

Private schools have all the same educational issues as public schools, it’s just that the parents have the extra cash to provide outside-of-school extra education, whereas my mother’s pupils, for example, are asleep in class after collecting glasses in a nightclub until 3am because their parents expect them to hand up money at home just because they can work legally.

What parents paying for private schools get for their money is avoiding some of the social issues that can occur in a school in a deprived area.

The system stinks, I agree, but you can’t tinker with it at this point because:

  1. It will mean higher public costs for education
  2. If you pull state subvention from private schools, they will be able to pay teachers what they want and you’ll genuinely then have a difference in teaching quality, as they pull top teachers in the way that genuinely private schools like Bruce College can do now.
  3. You will end up with worse teacher-pupil ratios in public schools, to make up for the increased costs.


That is an interesting way of framing it. Surely people aren’t entitled to x euors for the education of their children, instead children are entitled to an education?

Personally I think that private schools should not be funded in any way by the state. If schools want to engage in segregation then they should do so without state aid. I actually don’t have issue with it costing more to the state, if that was the case. I think in the interests of equality, children should have equal access to any part of the secondary education sector that receives state funding. If you wish to go down the private route then you pay the full amount.


Yep, I won’t sing one of our old rugby songs lest you think it elitist :wink:

I agree with you on the points of the facilities, and of the expectation of further education. When one spoke to a classmate about post-secondary-school, you invariably assumed 3rd level education. There is certainly a fostering of expectations which can lead to a drive in the pupils. Again to compare and contrast with my mother’s experience teaching in a disadvantaged area, she’s had parent’s with their eyes popping out of their heads at the notion of their kid being good enough for college.

We probably need to do away with points and/or foster education in disadvantaged areas and provide 20% fully funded places in college for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. They say you can lead the horse to water but you can’t make him drink - but I’d like to take some Irish parents and half drown them in the trough until they get a clue about how education really differs for other families: by the attitude at home.


Do any of the private schools offer a longer school year? that’s something that I would pay money for. … 46232.html

Plus means that the facilities you pay for (swimming pools, sports fields, cyclotrons, whatever) get used more by the pupils.


No, and it seems in my limited experience that the “private” school actually have a shorter school year but longer hours.


Withdrawing state funding where segregation is tolerated would be fine by me, whether that is gender, language, religion or any other difference.

People are free to buy a house in the catchment area of a school if they wish, the school shouldn’t be free to exclude others in that area because they can’t pay a fee. While some of what you predict may happen, I do not believe that it would be as pronounced as that. The state should, in so far as is possible, offer equality of opportunity in education. There are a number of steps that need to be taken to transform the education sector but first and foremost, remove the state subsidy to private schools.

One point that I think is worth making, just because a parent pays for private school, pays for additional lessons or buys a house in the catchment area of a good school, does not mean that they care more about their children’s education. It means that the have the resources to offer their children alternatives or additions to their standard education. I am sure that there are many parents who care greatly about their children’s education but they don’t have the resources to show that by paying for private school, etc.


That’s just a non sequitir. Why does the education system need to be transformed and why first and foremost do you want to abolish the semi-private sector? It’s been there for 50 years, it is educating 17% of the kids in the country, abolishing it will cost the taxpayer more money and there is no clearly beneficial outcome.

If I thought that removing state support for fee-charging schools would improve the overall quality of education in Ireland I might support the idea, but I see no connection whatsoever between the two.

I’d genuinely love if you could explain to me how you think Ireland will be a better place if you get your way, and I and my friends have to explain to our kids that we can’t afford to send them to school where they are any more. What’s the big win that’s worth the pain and hassle it will cost?


You say it “goes without saying” then you contradict that with this repeated undertones that if someone whose peers can pay for private schooling doesn’t utilise it they somehow value education less. It is nonsense.

If you’re going to play convenient juxtapositions then …Maybe families both “value” education equally but one “values” segregration and pays for it (or rather doesn’t pay enough for it) .

Or why not compare the choices of rich and poor families too. Lets say the rich family is using the money they would be paying in the UK to segregate schooling to go Skiing. Can they be said to “value” education more than a poor family who cannot afford to segregate?


Yes, and fundamentally some parents still won’t get that money does not necessarily mean a “better education”. I think too many people still believe that sending their kids to a “private” school is something to aspire to for its own sake, and as a mark that you’re putting resources into your kids’ education. Unless the fees are being used to buy something in particular that you want your kids to have, they’re not of benefit (other than as a barrier to entry, if you like that sort of thing).


I have already said that I don’t mind if it costs the state more. It is about equality of opportunity for children. The length of time that it has been in place for is of no consequence. If the state removed the subsidy then most private schools would convert to publicly funded schools, it’s not as if they would close their doors and 17% of students are left without a school.

A small minority of private schools would remain private. If your children go to one of those then obviously they would have to move if you don’t value the education that they are receiving. But as you seem to care about your children’s education, I am sure you would make the necessary sacrifices.