An Bord Snip: Education

I’m opening this strand to facilitate more specialized discussion on the cuts in Education proposed by An Bord Snip, which total €0.7 bn or 8% of the €9 billion currently spent in this area.

The proposed cuts include:

Structural efficiencies (e.g. amalgamation of some ITs and VECs).

Staffing reductions and productivity improvements
(e.g. in the area of sick leave arrangements, special needs assistants, pupil-teacher ratios, and more teaching hours)

Programme adjustments (mainstreaming of traveller education, costbrecovery of school transport, PRTLI)

37 thoughts on “An Bord Snip: Education”

  1. Patrick, not sure if this belongs here, so feel free to delete.

    But, I have just come across this article

    http://www.tribune.ie/news/home-news/article/2009/jul/12/academics-consider-legal-action-over-threats-to-wi/

    which cites specific claims about the implications of the Universities Act for the ability of government to influence what goes on in Irish universities.

    Leaving aside normative issues (and I personally think that the management of Irish universities has been sufficiently irresponsible that they can’t complain if governments impose restrictions on their ability to recruit, pay off scale etc), is the positive claim regarding the implications of the Universities Act correct? If so, does that have consequences for the ability of government to implement various recommendations of the report in our sector?

  2. On the substantive issue, it’s certainly a plausible legal argument – Universities Act 1997 s.50(2) seems to forbid precisely what the HEA are now doing: “Guidelines .. shall not be binding on a university, and if a university departs from those guidelines [the HEA] shall not, as a result of such departure, impose restrictions or conditions on the use of moneys paid to the university…”. Of course, long before it got as far as a court, there’d be a lot more legal argument, and who knows what might emerge. And if the government lost, they might simply amend the Act. But if we’re just asking whether IFUT has got an arguable point, the answer is that they have.

    As for the normative point, you’re presumably referring to the controversy over salary for 50 senior executives (mostly at UCD) which has rumbled on for quite a while now, without either side being able to establish that the other is wrong. Are you seriously saying that because you’d side with the HEA on this (why?), *therefore* universities should lose the power even to appoint a single new Senior Lecturer without official approval first? Because that is what the new employment framework insists on. If it’s a reaction to the overpayment issue, it’s an over-reaction …

  3. Well, I think that the hiring freeze is essential across the public sector irrespective of the off-scale payments issue. And while I am not in favour of super-sized salaries for beurocrats, I was also thinking about the expansion in the numbers of university beurocrats, something which McCarthy comments on, and about the general financial problems of the sector. As I understand it, UCD was in fairly good financial health a decade ago, so something has gone badly wrong in recent years (and not just in UCD).

    In terms of the McCarthy report though, I guess your response, for which I thank you, does suggest that in fact the government would have a hard time legally forcing through some of the report’s recommendations — although I suppose the threat of amending the Universities Act might carry some weight.

    One more point: a couple of the suggestions in the report might be used to create even more administration. I am referring to

    “the introduction of a formal academic workload management system across the sector”

    “implementation of performance management across the system”

    I guess though that the extent to which this will require the creation of new beurocracy depends on precisely what is being proposed, which isn’t entirely clear to me I confess.

  4. Its surprising that there has been s little coment in regard to universities and IT’s of simply letting them go from the clamy hand of Mr Kelly and his cohorts in the HEA and askin them to compete….

  5. I agree with Kevin O’Rourke’s [no relation] point that the report seems to be neglectful of admistrative costs in some of its recommendations in education.

    On page 64 of volume 2 of the report a suggestion is made that the way to increase efficiency to focussed on the ‘contract’ (class contact) hours of lecturing staff. The class-contact-hours proposal seems unwise to me for a number of reasons
    (i) It focuses on inputs rather than outputs
    (ii) It is a crude input measure with several know and substantial problems. The problem in much of third-level system is too many class contacts for students. One advantage (and there were many problems) of the move to semesterisation was student’s time in class was sensed as more precious. This result in the quality of delivery, and lecturer input into preparation increasing.
    (iii) Retained as the ultimate measure of an academic’s work the 16/18 lecturing hours per week reinforces minimal commitment and contribution, along with low quality lectures. In my experience, the poorest of contributors to third-level institutions seem to focus on the getting their contact hours done and nothing else. One of the mains resistances to semesterisation was such an attitude and McCarthy et al’s recommendation on teaching hours will reinforce such inflexibility to future more beneficial changes.

    In my view, specifying the contract in class-contact hours is a negative for the system except a measure of already failing staff. Perhaps it could be useful in some form as some sort of ultimate floor.

    A better control on the input side would be to invoke the elements of a lecturer’s contract that requires permission before outside private work can be undertaken. Such permission ought to be given only if the institutions can recoup a proportion of the substantial income many ‘full-time’ and handsomely paid academics are receiving. This would ensure that academics are committed to their publicly paid for job.

    Of course a greater focus on outputs would also help. Much of middle-management’s time in third level institutions is spent making sure that their staff time is fully accounted in terms of contact hours. Regardless of the productivity of those hours a ‘full-time table’ for each staff member ensures the middle manager can avoid accusations of waste. The well-recognised and embedded European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) of educational delivery to students might help. An academic manager’s performance could be measure to some extent by some formula like the following:

    (Number of ECTS credits provided to student) X (Number of students)
    Number of academic staff managed.

  6. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that much of what ‘went wrong’ can be attributed to misguided attempts to mimic private sector activities within universities (and, I suspect, other public institutions)? Producing ‘evidence’ that institutions are providing ‘value for money’ and ‘responding to the needs of their stakeholders’ requires additional layers of bureaucracy, wastes money in the production of unnecessary documentation, and distracts people from their core functions. A little bit more trust in the professionalism of public sector employees, and the common sense to recognize that producing, say, educated citizens (or care for elderly people) is not the same kind of activity as producing barbie dolls (to echo a previous thread!) would go a long way. But no doubt this is a hopelessly old-fashioned view.

  7. @Brian

    Asking the ITs to compete with who exactly?

    Is there an international market in furniture restoration diplomas, or certificates in exercise psychology?

    All cattiness aside, there needs to be a realization that the proliferation of ITs was all about passing round the political pork barrel and had little or nowt to do with well-thought out investment in educational infrastructure.

    Excepting a small number of out-liers, the ITs are swimming in a pond of mediocre courses and unambitious faculty. Low attainment could sneak under the radar in the days of plenty, but now we really need to take a cold hard look the return on investment and consider whether these resources could be better spent on a smaller number of higher-quality institutions.

  8. @Jane

    Your premise seems to be that left to their own devices, the third level sector would naturally tend toward an equilibrium with the right mix of provision to match student interests and the needs of the wider economy.

    Granted, the outcomes are a lot more nebulous than the barbie doll production numbers. But we can still look at some raw data to get an indication of whether the mission is being met. And it doesn’t augur well considering the continued failure to produce a stream of high quality graduates in certain strategic science and technology areas, while forever bumping up the numbers in cheap-to-run chalk’n’talk style courses.

    Not all the third level sector’s fault, I hasten to add. Its very difficult to produce lots of high quality science and engineering graduates when abysmal maths and science teaching at second level limits the pool of potential entrants to a tiny minority. Similarly there were cultural forces at work during the boom that placed a premium on fluff such as event management science, PR-ology and media studies.

  9. I think the premise, Proposition Joe, was that, contrary to your apparent view, a university’s raison d’être is not primarily or directly as an engine of economic growth. That view–materialism with economics as its master science–is a particular philosophy, one of many taught in good universities but that cannot be assumed to be the only reasonable philosophy. It assumes an answer to the questions “what is life for? what do we as a people want?” Universities ought to be places where people ask and attempt to answer those questions rather than assuming that the answer has already been determined and that life is for ever greater material comfort and that is the only thing that matters.

    As the slogan goes: L’université n’est pas une entreprise. Le savoir n’est pas une marchandise.

  10. @Proposition Joe (and can i in passing suggest that anyone who hasnt seen the Wire needs to do so, asap…..)

    Well as to whom the IT’s will compete with, thats really up to them. There is a lot of dross there but its not all dross. Lets see what they have….

  11. @Proposition Joe
    ITs and universities would compete for students, staff, and resources. If there are student fees, and labour market is not so tight that it does not discriminate, then the market will quickly reveal the true demand for diplomas in furniture restoration. If ITs were run along corporate lines, supply would follow demand.

    (I would think that a course in furniture restoration would be quite popular among well-to-do pensioners.)

  12. @Proposition Joe and Brian Lucey and more generally

    What the regional technical colleges and DIT (my own institution) did in the 1980s was to produce lots of Certificate and Diploma graduates. The relatively low Irish wages meant that these graduates were sellable to a host of multinational employers.

    Over the years the market for 2.5 level Irish graduates went into serious decline. Increasing Irish wages, the fluency of English across a range of emerging economies, increased automation etc. meant that employers were not interested. The children of IOT graduates aspired to degrees. Some of the institutes responded and continue do so, others did not and even continue to decline.

    What we need is some way of allowing those institutions that are and can develop and serve efficiently the increasing need for 3rd level education, while giving a rational basis for making tough decisions on things like efficiency, mergers and closures. Instead we have jerky short-term decisions made on an outdated admiration of the German dual system and a fear that any attempt to change will result in the British polytech situation. For example, the proposal in McCarthy et al that DIT, stay scattered across the city or move its 18K plus students out to Tallaght seems more an instruction to stay cheap and know our place than an encouragement to compete and achieve excellence.

  13. One thing that struck me was the tiny savings estimated to be found in the VEC budget – 3m out of c926m.

    There’s surely more that can be saved there? Why we need to preserve the county council linked structure of the VECs isn’t really justified or mentioned.

  14. What is the current situation with regard to the Granggorrman site. For years we have being told that Grangegorman would be a “city campus for Dublin’s and the DIT’s future.” That the 140 million needed was ring fenced. Now, it seems, it is all out to Tallaght or else stay put in the assortment of colleges across the city. Anyone fill me in on this.

  15. On specifics: I find it hard to justify PRTLI in the current circumstances, given the other cuts that are bound to be made.

    Is there anyone who objects to the abolition of the NUI?

  16. @Kevin
    @Steve
    Just to amplify a little on this discussion, I agree with Steve that the fact of salaries in some universities departing from the normal scales is not itself evidence of gross mismanagement. Under the Departures Framework – http://www.ucd.ie/hr/t4cms/departures_framework.pdf – such salaries require approval both from the governing authority and from the Minister. I share the surprise of some that these provisions have been used to pay adminstrators off-scale, in addition to star academics. UCD has made available on its website details of departures from salary scales and allowanes paid to academic staff undertaking senior administrative roles (such allowances having ben subsequently withdrawn).
    It is not clear to me that deficit financing at UCD and other universities provides evidence of mismanagement either. Public and private sector organisations and, indeed, many households routinely sustain themselves over long periods while spending more than they bring in, particularly in periods of development and growth. Clearly the sustainability of this practice in the universities has been disrupted by fiscal crisis and is being addressed.
    The area of management where I think the universities could do much better is in aligning mechanisms for allocating resources better with the activities of the various units (teaching and non-teaching) within the organisations. Such an alignment would make transparent the financial impact of all activities (whether teaching, supervising research students, undertaking funded research, etc) and enable units to plan and be rewarded for activities which improve their financial positions. This is not to argue that academic departments should be driven by such financial considerations, nor that the rewards for new activities should go exclusively to those departments which undertake them. A transparent resource allocation mechanism would facilitate decisions about how best to subsidise core activities which do not necessarily bring in sufficient resources to support them.
    I do agree that changes in management are contested by significant numbers of staff within the universities.

  17. @ Prop Joe, and others.

    One of the medium sized elephants in the room with regards to IOT’s is the collapse of the apprentice numbers, mostly in construction. These apprentices spend 4 years coming thru the system and spend two blocks of 10-12 weeks at an IOT delivering the specific craft, aswell as 20 weeks prior to that in FAS.

    In the medium term, the numbers in comparison to exiting/ previous cohorts are not there, and consequently there are alot of lecturer hours going……..

    This will affect FAS and the IOT’s, and the existing delivery model, craft locations, etc will most likely be ‘enhanced’/modified to deal with the new facts on the grounds.

    All this, medium sized elephant!, seems to be hovering under the radar!
    For the moment…

    Al

    PS
    Concur with Brian, watch the Wire

  18. Firstly, we need to separate our the IoTs from the Universities – please let’s not replicate the debacle in the UK!

    Since 1997 Universities have signed away most of our (academic) freedoms – the most recent being the proposal to do away with the NUI – so no more faculties (guess where I’m from), academic council being watered down to window dressing, and now the NUI.

    Also, for ifut to make this response to the employment control framework tells me just how bad things really are – in my book ifut were a talking-shop, a gentleman’s club – since they took this response, I might even consider joining.

  19. Excellent letter in the Irish Times today by DR Toren Krings. It throw’s McCarthy’s flippant assumptions about english language supports out the window;

    _______________

    Madam, – On July 16th The Irish Times reported on an ESRI study on immigrant students which found that more than half of all school principals reported language difficulties among a significant proportion of their immigrants students.

    On the same day, Dr Colm McCarthy, author of the “Bord Snip” report, justifies proposed further cuts of 1,000 English language support teachers with the words: “Those who teach English to newcomer children for example are not needed as much as they were before.” The irony is not lost. However, whereas the ESRI study is based on solid research, Dr McCarthy justifies his proposed cuts in the report with “estimated immigration and labour market parameters” which are not referenced.

    Indeed, there are no such “estimates” which would in any way justify such a drastic cut in English language support for immigrant children. According to the most recent figures from the quarterly national household survey, 462,000 non-Irish nationals live in the country. In its latest quarterly economic commentary, the ESRI predicts net outward migration of 40,000 for the year 2010.

    Even assuming that all of these emigrants would be from the recent immigrant population (which is unlikely as these emigrants probably will include some Irish nationals as well), this would not fundamentally alter the composition of Irish society. For the foreseeable future, immigrants will remain a significant part of Ireland’s population, irrespective of the current economic downturn.

    In such circumstances the recommendations of the “Bord Snip” report, based on spurious immigration “estimates”, beggar belief. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that stresses the importance of language as a key ingredient for successful immigrant integration.

    A 2006 OECD study (Where Immigrant Students Succeed) concluded that those countries that only have a small performance gap between immigrant and native students are those that “tend to have well-established language support programmes with relatively clearly defined goals and standards.”

    If Ireland wants to avoid repeating the mistakes of the “old” European immigration countries, the Government is well advised to ignore the recommendations for further cuts in English language support teachers. – Yours, etc,

    DR TORBEN KRINGS,

    Trinity Immigration Initiative,

    Trinity College,

    Dublin 2.

  20. Most of the comments here reflect the occupational bias of the contributors, i.e. third level sector. I want to comment on a few things about what McCarthy says about the second level sector. I do so as a teacher in a vocational school. However, I am not one of those cossetted permanent teachers – I’m on a yearly contract, so please no abuse raining on my head about the bonus of permanency. As of now, I and a few others in my school have no clue as to whether we will be back in September – the classes and kids will all be there, but nothing has been sanctioned re contract staff. We’re talking here about teachers of higher level maths, accounting, biology, geography, art, p.e.

    One of the things that caught my eye was the section on the managerial allowances paid to 52% of teachers. These range from the obvious – prinicipal, deputy principal – to things like assistant principal and the (hilariously titled) posts of special responsibility. McCarthy seems to think there is some managerial point to the “assistant principal” posts and proceeds the pour thinly disguised scorn on the “posts of special responsibility”. Well, he ought to have poured scorn on both. The assistant principal posts often involve such onerous duties as: organisising a couple of fire drills and the annual bookshop; updating student files; exam secretary (printing and giving out exam numbers); supervising twice weekly detention and so on. All of this comes with an allowance of approximately 8000 euro a year extra plus 4 hours less teaching. How are they handed out? Not on merit, no no. In the interview, a full 66% of the marks are for length of service and 33% for suitability.

    McCarthy reels off a big long list of duties that he claims are associated with posts of special responsibility (the lower rung of the “managerial ladder”). In fact, many of the ones he lists are given out at the higher level (higher paid) of assistant principal, e.g. exam secretary. If he had known that, he’d be very angry indeed. Of course many of the duties associated with the posts of special responsibility are also a joke, e.g. in our school one teacher gets paid this allowance for ordering the mock exam papers. Now, this allowance is worth 4000 euro a year and 90% of teachers order their exam papers online as this is more efficient than fiddling with paper. In other words this job doesn’t exist. Other examples of these posts include – organise christmas party, collect money for trip to France etc. As with assistant principal posts, they are essentially handed out on the basis of length of service.

    It seems to me like a very expensive way of managing our schools. I have worked in the private sector and that is where my wife works. Under no circumstances could I see a private sector employer offering 8000 euro a year and 4 hours less work a week for such “duties” as checking that the fire alarm is working or 4000 euros for opening the library one lunchtime a week. The system is a joke. It stinks. This is where a lot of mony has gone, and to no eduactionally useful purpose.

    As a non – permanent teacher, I wonder if the union is concerned about saving my job, or just looking after the terms and conditions of the already well looked after. I don’t have a problem with the pension levy – I have a job. If I lose my job, where am I to find another in the wreckage of the Irish economy? We have a mortgage and 3 small children – moving is not so easily done. In any case, why should I have to emigrate?

  21. @Isaac
    The real reform will come when people like you point out the inefficiencies in the system. The rest of us are just guessing and going third hand from what we read in the newspapers.

    Wouldn’t it be great if the teachers unions or principals bodies came up with their own list of where savings should occur which probably won’t affect teaching standards at all. Instead it seems to be no changes at all, over our dead bodies.

  22. @ Stuart
    There is also a generational issue to be teased out here.

    The old guard were cosy and happy taking on the bonus assistant principal posts while the younger teachers were being dalied around with yearly contracts and eventually CID’s.
    IMO, the unions seemed to focus on maintaining the benefits of the older generation rather than fighting for the new guard coming into teaching posts.

    Asking unions and bodies to offer lists etc may expose the tension between the older guard, trying to ride it out till retirement?;and the new guard looking at the situation with youthful vigour and good intentions, hopefully.

    @ Issac; thanks for pointing this out.
    There seems to be an aversion to meritocracy.
    Meritocracy is only for students it seems

    Al

  23. In secondary, isn’t there a case for phasing out all support for the feepaying schools? I believe McCarthy calls for a 25% cut in the €100m spent on teachers salaries in such schools.

  24. I see now, (p.70 vol II ) that all the DIT staff, lecturers etc., were led up the proverbial garden path for the last 10 years regarding the mega plans for Grangegorman. McCarthy recommends that funding for the Grangegorman Development Agency be “discontinued.”

    Furthermore, it is envisaged that the land could be sold off. When? This would avoid any more expenditure on the 1.5bn capital programme. Fascinating stuff, in the blink of an eye 10 years of planning is snuffed out and despatched to the dustbin of oblivion. The McCarthy group formulae to save the country consists of a bunch of economists and finance people armed with nothing more than calculators and spreadsheets. They are being hailed as hero’s for stating nothing more than the painfully obvious truth, that every sector of government and its tentacled agencies were ripping off the tax payer, like there was no tomorrow. Then along came the “credit crunch” – there was nothing in the kitty and the game was up!

    However, it will take a lot more than spreadsheets and calculators to save this country and the nemesis of this report will be when the social implications of this report are teased out and ventilated. You cannot run a country with a bunch of aging 50 and 60 year old men with calculators. It is totally wrong and insulting approach. Why were young people not involved? No brains, cannot be trusted or what? They are the one’s who are going to take the brunt of this mess, created by the above said generation of geniuses who got us into this mess and who now want to retire on their dream pensions.

    I would have no problem jailing the people responsible and I believe it will come to that later! But this report does not connect with me at all on the level of a person, concerned about Irish society. Society is somewhat more complicated than spreadsheets. I do not believe in renting the fabric of education, health, culture in Ireland to shreds because the rest of us are told that we have to kowtow to demigods with calculators whom the government can hide behind. Let me remind the rest of you, least you believe otherwise, that Colm McCarthy is just a MAN. A good man and probably a well intentioned man but just a man nontheless.

    Yes, semesterisation, lectureres earning Euro 200 an hour while taking six months off has to go, that’s obvious and McCarthy is right to insist on minimum undergraduate teaching hours for senior academic staff (his mates) who believe that somehow teaching students is now somewhat beneath their vaunted skills.

  25. The funding of Skillnets is should go. Any company can join a skillnet or two and get subsidised training, irrespective of the ‘need’ for financial assistance.

    Not to single out one organisation, but by way of example …. ISME ran training before skillnets came along and will continue to when skillnets are abolished.

    It’s apparent that Skillnets only serve to artificially subsidise the cost of training for organisations that can well support the costs without hindrance to the economy as a whole.

  26. @Danny
    “It’s apparent that Skillnets only serve to artificially subsidise the cost of training for organisations that can well support the costs without hindrance to the economy as a whole.”

    I’ve been involved in some of these. The reality is there will be less training done without the subsidy. In tighter times training budgets are prime targets for the chop. ISME may carry on running courses but the take up will drop without the grants. How much of the skillnets training genuinely increased skills is questionable. I’m not saying don’t cut it but the same amount of “training” will not continue if you do.

  27. @Marie O’Relly and James Conran
    In both primary and secondary there is a “big white elephant” which has not been mentioned by any commentator when discussing these education cuts; The Church and their absolute determination to have segregated schools.
    A large percentage of protestant secondary schools are in the boarding school, private, fee-paying sector and are heavily subsidised; many protestant parents do wish to send their children to the local catholic secondary school and they will fight tooth and nail to protect their protestant ethos schools. I think I am correct in saying that all the comprehensives were originally protestant schools and maintain priority enrolment for protestant children.
    With primary you have the same problem. Small 2-3 teacher protestant schools in country towns with children bussed in from some distance whilst there could be a catholic national school within walking distance of their home.
    BRAVE the man or woman who takes this one on.

  28. Oops – that should read “protestant parents do NOT wish to send their children to catholic schools”

  29. @ Pat C,

    Is the issue protestantism or middle class-ness?

    To lay my personal cards on the table, a secular/non-denominational public education system (with religious instruction a privately provided option) would solve a lot of problems…

  30. @Stuart Blythman
    I agree in part with you Stuart. If the Skillets are cut the same amount of training may not be done. However when companies such as Intel, Google and many other ‘cash happy’ organisations can avail of this type of funding it’s wrong.

    If such organisations were to stop training because they were not getting the odd hundred euro funding, here and there, then the actual value of the training should be questioned. Or at least the organisations commitment to it.

    Training spend, of the Skillnets sort is targeted at short term specific needs and should be looked at as an investment. Market economics will take care of the cost and actual training need will take care of the supply.

    Finally, Skillnets funding is for those in employment. With so many finding their way to the local unemployment exchange it would be money better spent to help those who need it most.

  31. @Stuart Blythman
    Just one more thought Stuart. More people getting training = increased demand for trainers, hotel meeting rooms etc. Increased demand = increased costs ( supply and demand ). This = increased fees for participants which are subsidised.

    The result is an unnecessarily supported artificial cost/supply structure. Think of the property situation. More for everybody is not always the best way forward for the economy.

  32. @ Robert Browne
    “The McCarthy group formulae to save the country consists of a bunch of economists and finance people armed with nothing more than calculators and spreadsheets. …
    I do not believe in renting the fabric of education, health, culture in Ireland to shreds because the rest of us are told that we have to kowtow to demigods with calculators whom the government can hide behind.”

    Mc Carthy produced figures and recommendations based on these figures.
    It will be under the will of this government to ‘save’ the country.
    But I am sure they are glad to have him in front of them taking the flak.

    There are strong grounds for this exercise becoming a annual, bi-annual, etc, exercise. It would take the clothing off politicans claims of what they are spending our money on.

    As regards to the fabric of society!!! There is alot of poor quality fibre in there, unsuitable for good material, alot of fibre not fit for purpose and alot of fabric in un needed or unsuitable locations.
    I think I murdered your metaphor!
    It wasnt called Bord Snip for nothing.

  33. @Danny
    My experience was I gave 5 training courses on the finance end to owner managers of hardware stores. There were 2 other trainers doing separate sessions on merchandising and selling. I never actually met them but they used the same hotels etc I did.

    You’re right, there will be less demand for hotels etc but given the ones I was in back in March were already near empty it will exacerbate that problem. (There are some really nice hotels in off the beaten track places)Training thankfully isn’t my main source of income, it was more a once off but there will be people who make their livelihood from giving skillnets funded courses many of which will now cease.

    Every cut of An Bord Snip will have a knock on effect in the wider economy in the sense the money that was being spent went into someone’s pocket either public sector or private or individual.

    I still agree it has to be done but let’s not kid ourselves – €5b less spent is €5b less in the economy no matter what the scheme was.

  34. @James
    I’m just saying there is the extra dimension of the protestant schools and there will be a lot of “hot-air” about the protestant ethos.
    And I completely agree that the solution is secular schools – not just because of cost but because it is inherently wrong to separate 4 year old neighbours for education based on their parents’ religion.

  35. @Pat,
    I have worked in protestant fee paying schools and vocational (non-fee paying) schools. The crux of the issue is not really at the primary level, but at the secondary level, where the claim is made that the protestant fee paying schools are entitled to state funding for teacher salaries as they are providing a school with a particular ethos for a widely dispersed population, that otherwise would not be provided for. There is something to this argument, but not much.

    I really enjoyed working in the Church of Ireland school, we had superb facilites as teachers, the kids had a wider range of subjects and extra-curricular activities. However, most of the kids came from middle class and upper backgrounds. I presume it’s the same across the other fee paying schools, i.e. the Roman Catholic ones. Is this not an effective subsidy to the education of those who are already well off? Can we afford this now that we are cancelling book grants, installing pre-fabs on a semi-permanent basis, and using clapped out computers in our non-fee paying schools?

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