Grind schools record surge in enrolment

New grind school signs up 200 full-time students with fees of more than €7,000

The Dublin Academy of Education is the newest grind school to open in the capital. From left to right, student Ava Hennessy, principal Michael Ruaidhrí Deasy, teacher Ronan Murdock and student Keerthana Kissan Thomas.

The Dublin Academy of Education is the newest grind school to open in the capital. From left to right, student Ava Hennessy, principal Michael Ruaidhrí Deasy, teacher Ronan Murdock and student Keerthana Kissan Thomas.

 

Grind schools charging more than €7,000 a year are reporting a surge in demand amid signs the economy is continuing to grow.

The Dublin Academy of Education, the newest grind school on the market, says it has enrolled 200 full-time students for the coming academic year in a new €4.6 million school in Stillorgan.

It expects to sign up to 3,500 students for weekly evening grinds at a cost of €500-€995 per subject.

Other more established grind schools in Dublin, Cork and Galway are also reporting high demand among students who feel they offer the best chance to maximise their chances of securing high CAO points.

“We’re not funded by the Department of Education, which means our full-time fees are €7,295, but we believe it represents value for money for those who wish to invest in their children’s educational experience,” said founder Chris Lauder.

Teachers will use bespoke classroom materials to spark group discussion and collaborative learning

“We were targeting 150 students this year, but the demand was much higher.”

Online service

The competition for grinds has also moved online with the launch of a new online grinds service for students.

Jumpagrade. com, a Limerick-based company, is charging €30-€60 a week (or €630-€1,260 over an academic year) for linking students with online tutors.

The company is offering a novel guarantee that any student who does not reach their target grades in Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams will get their money back.

The new school in Stillorgan, meanwhile, is due to open its doors on Monday.

It has grown from what was known as the Dublin School of Grinds, which started out as a weekly maths grind for Leaving Cert students from a community hall in Cabinteely.

While grind schools are typically seen as “exam factories”, with a heavy emphasis on repeating teachers’ notes in exams, Mr Lauder insisted this would not be the case.

Major social and economic inequalities inevitably undermine all but the thinnest forms of equality of opportunity in education

He said students at the academy would benefit from a “managed-independence” style of teaching aimed at preparing them for third-level and beyond.

“Rather than reading from text-books, teachers will use bespoke classroom materials to spark group discussion and collaborative learning,” he said,

Mr Lauder said the new school had hired 30 teachers, 14 on a full-time basis, from other schools. Each teacher, he said, had been reviewed by students and peers.

Criticism

The rise of grind schools has been criticised by equality campaigners, who say they are a way for privileged parents to give their children an advantage.

Kathleen Lynch, professor of equality studies at UCD, has said they undermine the equality principle which governs education policy.

“Major social and economic inequalities inevitably undermine all but the thinnest forms of equality of opportunity in education because privileged parents will always find ways of advantaging their children in an economically unequal society,” she told an Oireachtas committee earlier this year.