Feeder schools and education

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Sir, – I think we should congratulate our Department of Education – otherwise known as the permanent government – and the many ministers for education who have worked hard over the decades to achieve a college progression rate of 100 per cent for students from those challenging postcodes of Dublin 2, 4 and 6. What a result. Over the years they have worked hard at ignoring the obvious unfairness embedded in the heart of the funding of our education system and have managed to achieve a shining example of a two-tier education system. They can stand back now and look with pride at the handy job they have done (“Affluent students 14 times more likely to go to university than disadvantaged peers”, News, December 4th).

Unfortunately, it would appear that these league tables are here to stay and worryingly it seems that they have a role to play in driving policies in schools as well as informing the choices of parents. They have become a dangerous and divisive annual publication.

But what is also evident from these tables is that the time is right to cut the private schools loose from the public purse. Evidently they are up and running now, filling our colleges and universities at a phenomenal rate. It is no longer right that our Government continues to subsidise their hockey pitches or pay their teachers’ salaries when there are so many schools in genuine need – schools that have to fund-raise to pay the basics of heat, light and maintenance.

How can the Minister for Education continue to stand over a system that funds ours schools in a manner that perpetuates inequality? The duty of the Minister is to provide the same level of schooling for all of our children.

Anything extra should be paid for privately.

This alone will not make the playing pitch completely level as inequality in education is more complex that public versus private, but at least it is a start and would be the moral thing to do. It would show leadership and principle, it would begin to address the inequality and encourage inclusiveness. – Yours, etc,

SHEILA MAHER,

Goatstown,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – How I hate the term “feeder schools”! They are not educational troughs! – Yours, etc,

OLIVER McGRANE,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.

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