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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Doing the hard yards

The news that pressure by Labour party public reps has ensured that a review of funding to fee paying second level schools is welcome.  I’ve believed strongly that private fee paying school which enjoy better resources than the rest because they are better financed through fees should not get the salaries of non teaching staff paid by the state.  I’ve made this argument at VEC level for a long time and made my views known to Ruairi Quinn.

Principals and Deputy Principals are not teaching, they manage a private school. There is no logical argument that transferring the responsibility to the private school to pay their wages is anyway impacting on the quality of education in the school.  Recently one well known fee paying schools could boast on their website that they still retained a full time Career Guidance Officer despite the cut in Career teaching Guidance hours. That type of bragging rubs salt into the wounds of most schools. 

My point to the IVEA which is the patron of all VEC’s is if they can afford to pay a full time career and guidance officer and advertise this to attract pupils to their school they can well afford to pay their principals and deputy principals.  This would save about €7M and would help Ruairi Quinn to achieve the target reduction on spending of €77M at his department. It wouldn’t impact on the Pupil teacher ratio.  Fee paying schools don’t get extensions built by the state but have in the past got grants towards construction.  It’s time to end these too. I recently heard of a case where a rugby school could hire a coach and had the use of intercom for the coach from a mentor in the stand watching the first XV play in a match. What has that got to do with the core duty of ant school which is to educate. Very little.  So it’s time for these schools to do the hard yards on their own.   

It’s not that I am envious of fee paying schools, I once taught in one.  It’s simply a case that fairness requires those who can afford most to carry most.  The view that parents will simply take their kids out and send them to publically funded schools is simply fiction. South Dublin where many of these schools are has only 1 public community school I’m aware of.  One of the reasons why fee paying schools are benefiting now is that after Labour abolished fees at 3rd level parents had extra money to spend so they spent it on private education in the hope that a perceived better school would improve their chances of progressing to 3rd level.  By transferring the cost of school management salaries to the school itself there will be no impact on the classroom and a saving to the state. 

Here’s hoping that Ruairi Quinn will take the decision and make the fee paying schools carry this cost into the future.  He’ll have my full support if he does

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