Fee-charging schools and State support

Sir, – The fact that the fee-charging sector continues to save the exchequer significantly, every year, ought not to be lost in any discussion of such schools.

The alternative for the majority of the 25,000 students enrolled in fee-charging schools would be to attend a school fully funded by the State.

Empowering schools with the necessary resources for the benefit of all students, whether within the fee-charging or the free fees scheme, should be where energies are concentrated. Pitting one sector against another distracts entirely from that focus. It also fails to recognise the organic development of the educational landscape across time, which has led to the diversity of school sectors that mutually coexist and make up the education system in the State. – Yours, etc,





Sir, – Further to "Many fee-paying schools say they are unfairly excluded from State support" (News, December 27th), if fee-paying schools believe non-fee-paying schools have it so good, what's stopping them abolishing their fees?

Education is a right and public good. All schools in Ireland should be palaces. It’s in our collective interest to cherish all children and young people equally. – Yours, etc,


School of Education,

University College Dublin,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – A recent outbreak of this hardy annual has prompted me to enter the fray. It’s a reasonable premise to hold that fee-paying parents pay higher taxes than the average. In return for these extra taxes, a State contribution to fee-paying schools, equivalent to that enjoyed by the average industrial worker’s children, would seem reasonably equitable. The anti-fee lobby would no doubt be delighted if, in return for their extra contributions, the higher taxpayers got diddly-squat. As clever, hard-working people are not generally masochists, I can’t see this being tolerated. – Yours, etc,



Co Westmeath.

Sir, – As humble taxpayers, can we kindly invite all principals of private schools to return with their tales of woe on April 1st? As with any joke, it’s all in timing. – Yours, etc,



Co Clare.

Sir, – Surely when it comes to education the subsidy to pay for teaching salaries to all schools should be the same per pupil? The current reality is that today the subsidy for private schools for teaching salaries is less than that for State schools. Indeed, the State pays all the other costs for State schools. Equality of treatment around teaching costs is not much to ask.

Those who send their offspring to private schools are taxpayers and citizens of the State and should not be discriminated against by exclusion.

In terms of cost-effectiveness for the taxpayer, the private schools cost the State considerably less than if they all became part of the State system. Why would it be in the taxpayers’ interest to reduce the subsidy to the point that the private schools are no longer viable?

Cost-effectiveness for the State and equal use of taxpayers’ money for all school-goers surely ought to trump every other argument.

Your readers could do worse than read Article 42 of the Constitution of Ireland. It does not, nor should it, seek to discriminate against private schools. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.