My Education Year


Gráinne Faller


The reaction to an article of mine about the experience of being a gay teacher in Irish schools.

It took a lot of courage on the part of the teachers to talk about their situations and the overwhelmingly positive response was a heartening step in the right direction. It wasn’t all rosy.

While most found their schools and colleagues to be supportive, the casual bigotry and homophobia that they still encounter, whether or not people know their sexual orientation, was depressing.


The phrase “world-class education system”. If you hear a politician utter those words, you’re about to listen to a load of guff about how not to address the problems in Irish education.

There was also a really disappointing reaction from the teacher unions to the new Junior Cycle programme.

Disagreeing with changes is fine but claiming the status quo is acceptable is just silly.

Wish for 2013

That we start striving to achieve a world class education system rather than simply assuming that we have one.

* Gráinne Faller qualified as a primary school teacher in Froebel College of Education and completed a masters in journalism in DIT. She combines work with looking after her two-year-old son.

Louise Holden


The research findings proving that the enlightened DEIS programme for disadvantaged schools is delivering significant improvements in literacy and numeracy.


Fine Gael’s cack-handed referendum information campaign, which almost cost us long-awaited constitutional reform on children’s rights.

Wish for 2013

That Leaving Cert students can find their way on to suitable college courses without the support of a guidance counsellor.

* Louise Holden is the mother of two children of primary-school age. She has a masters in education from UCD and also lectures in media studies. She sings and writes music with roots band I Draw Slow.

Peter McGuire


Easy: the long-overdue reform of the Junior Cert, which will lessen the amount of rote learning and place a greater emphasis on teaching children to think for themselves. Also the satirical charity collection made by Labour Youth in UCC to raise money for the UCC president, Michael Murphy, who aroused the nation’s sympathy when he said he was struggling on his €232,000 salary.


Throughout 2012, the removal of the Visiting Teacher for Travellers service has led to a higher than usual school dropout rate for the most marginalised group in Ireland.

Wish for 2013

Less hot air about a knowledge economy and more real investment in universities, with clear career progression paths for PhD students: paths that don’t involve emigration.

Not just more schools under Educate Together and VEC patronage, but a ban on schools being allowed to cherry-pick students based on whether or not they are baptised. It’s a farce that parents feel forced to have their children christened to ensure they can secure their constitutional right to an education.

* Peter McGuire is a freelance journalist, writing primarily for The Irish Times and the Huffington Post. He edits and writes for, a food blog. He lectures in Irish folklore at UCD.

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