The problems with feeder school lists


Sir, – “Feeder school” lists (Feeder Schools 2019, December 3rd) promote a distorted view that educational success is dependent on students securing places on third-level courses that require high points. They also suggest that immediate progress to third level is the only choice worth valuing and recognising.

Thankfully, the work of schools has always been more expansive and generous than that suggested by such a limited mechanism.

These rankings ignore the efforts of those students who have had the odds stacked against them because of, for example, various special educational needs, severe health issues, extremely challenging family situations or their first language not being English.

Similarly, the extraordinary commitment of adult learners who have achieved significantly in only completing part of a Leaving Certificate is not acknowledged.

And, at a time when Government policy is to boost apprenticeship enrolments to meet the growing skills deficit in our economy, these lists penalise schools that encourage or promote this vital and valuable pathway.

In terms of providing information, school principals are always willing to engage with the parents of prospective students to provide balanced information on the school across a range of contexts.

Thankfully, parents around Ireland appreciate the real value of our schools, with 83 per cent of the public expressing satisfaction with the education system and schools in this year’s OECD Government At A Glance report, compared to the international average of 66 per cent. – Yours, etc,


President, Teachers’ Union of Ireland,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – I see that the annual fiction list of the “best” schools is out again. The very narrow use of progression to third level as a judgment of good or bad is as useful as how well the sports team or debating society get on.

A school cannot be judged a success or failure on one element of its totality.

How about ranking a school on how many of it pupils have gone on to win apprenticeships? The country needs a broad spectrum of well educated people who can cure disease,  lay blocks, do the books and repair your car.

The last thing we need are hoards of young people waving their degrees in some spurious,  makey-uppie qualification when they may be happier doing a more satisfying and productive skills-based job. Pushing this easily compiled, lazy, outdated schools ranking is doing nobody any favours. – Yours, etc,


Rathowen,Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Again we have The Irish Times feeder schools list with its focus on fee-paying schools. There is another aspect however.

Given that progression to third level is defined by The Irish Times as “Irish third level” and does not include those Irish students going on to study at third-level institutions outside of Ireland (eg UK, the Netherlands, Hungary and Poland) one has to query the validity of the survey. Many Irish students have aspirations to study outside of Ireland where there are many choices and often at less cost. – Yours, etc,


Munich, Germany.