Subsiding fee-paying schools


Sir, – It is not surprising to read that many parents continue to cough up for private education in this country even though fees are on the rise (Carl O’Brien, “Parents face gridlock over private school places”, News, December 28th).

Why wouldn’t they when they are being subsidised to such a great extent by the taxpayer?

When are we going to admit that private patients and doctors in public hospitals and public funds in private schools only serve to widen and cement the gap between the haves and have-nots in this country?

We have entrenched funding biases that need a radical overhaul if we are to hold our heads up as a country that aspires to treat all of our citizens equally. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

Sir, – It costs me roughly €7,000 to send my son to a private school. To fund that I need to earn slightly more than €14,000. Of this €14,000, 52 per cent goes directly to the exchequer.

If this is replicated across the 25,000 students attending fee-paying private schools, the exchequer is earning roughly €180 million from their parents. This is in comparison to the roughly €100 million it subvents to private schools to uphold the constitutional rights all our children have to education.

No matter how poor my maths may be, I’d say the State does reasonably well with the status quo. I’d also say that removing a choice from one sector of society in no way benefits any other. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – Tom Cooper (December 31st) is spot-on in criticising the effective subsidies given by the generality of taxpayers to schools for the privileged elite.

Yes, parents have the right to educate their offspring privately if they so wish. And despite all the evidence from earnest university studies, so long as they continue to believe that it gives their children a comparative advantage, the system will survive.

Yet underneath all the guff about confidence-building, superior pupil-teacher ratios, excellent facilities, and a “learning environment”, lies a simple truth. Ross O’Carroll-Kelly explains it far better than a 1,000-page report. In other words, “my child will mix with People Like Us”, leading to a comfortable socio-economic world of connectivity in future years.

There is a moral issue here apart from the financial aspect. It should not be the State’s function to assist in entrenching and reinforcing such networks of privilege. Indeed, there is a strong argument that, in the interests of the vast majority of citizens and taxpayers, it should, through its policies, be actively discouraging them. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.