It’s not the school you go to that determines how well you do – it’s the class system, stupid


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Owen Jones | It’s not the school you go to that determines how well you do – it’s the class system, stupid

Is going to a private school a waste of money? Yep! Kids from the same professional (university educated parents, doing well etc) background do just as well in non-fee paying schools. The only way of improving education outcomes for the majority is reducing inequality – investing in early education and supports for those who cannot afford what those from homes with a professional background get by default.

Owen Jones outlines the case unequivocally here but the research is relevant to Ireland and its subsidized private school, class-prioritised education system.

What determines above all how well you do educationally? For most, that’s a fairly straightforward answer: it’s down to how good your school is. But the evidence doesn’t back it up. The massive educational divisions in our society can be explained – above all else – by rampant broader social and economic inequalities. It’s the class system, stupid.

A few months ago, educational campaigner Fiona Millar and I went to City of London School to argue for the abolition of private education. This elite school, which charges £13,000 in annual fees (or nearly-two-thirds the median pay packet), is not exactly home turf, you would think, but my argument was simple: your parents are wasting their money. Last year, an  OECD report revealed that privately educated students in Britain did better overall (as you would expect), but those with the same backgrounds at state schools did better than them. Once you took into account the socio-economic background of pupils, state schools in the UK outperformed private schools by a considerable margin.

And the solution?

So how do we tackle educational inequalities? Above all, it means tackling broader inequalities: the stresses that poverty puts on some people’s lives; investing in good housing, with enough space to study; a good diet (through free school breakfasts and dinners, for example); and so on. It means addressing the early educational gap by investing in SureStart and nursery education. It also means promoting social mixing in schools: OECD research suggests that a better mix improves the results of the least well-off students without dragging down overall performance.

It’s worth emphasising too that Ireland has only had a “free” educational system for last 40 years.

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Donagh is the editor of Irish Left Review. Contact Donagh through email:

2 Responses

  1. Laim smullen

    June 30, 2012 12:06 pm

    Laim smullen
    Private School are increasing in demand certain rich parts of the country including St Columba’s College that charges € 15,570 per year is oversubscribed
    In fact most the private school industry especially the grinds schools Seems to have taken off after we joined the then E.E.C. Most of the “grind school” Foundings seems to have taken place in the 1980s early 1990s during which was a time of University fees and very high personal taxes. But then again in that decade a whole string of golf clubs opened along the K-Club opening in 1990
    This such not to surprising because during the last recession in the 1980s there was a boom in privates schools it is worth knowing that they were so oversubscribed that it lead to the founding the institute of education(1969) , Bruce collage(1984) and

    institute of education(1969

    Grind schools

    Dublin Tutorial Centre
    Welcome to Dublin Tutorial Centre

    Centrally located in historic Georgian Dublin, Dublin Tutorial Centre (DTC) was established by Stephen Barcroft in 1978
    Bruce collage 1984
    yeats collage

    Deane collage


    Ashfield College is a private secondary school founded in 1977 and located in Templeogue in Dublin, Ireland.[1] The school offers preparation for the Leaving Certificate examination, both as a two year leaving certificate senior cycle, but also as a one year (Repeat Leaving Cert.) programme.[2] The school also caters for overseas students wishing to study in Ireland for the Irish leaving certificate.[3] Twenty one leaving certificate subjects are taught at the school, and the school uses e-learning facilities (such as Moodle[4]), and students can access course material, including recorded lectures online.[5] As well as the popular subjects for the leaving cert some less common leaving cert subjects of Arabic,[6] Agricultural Science and Classical Studies are also available at Ashfield.[7] The school offers a career guidance[8] service to students with advice on academic and career issues, such as advice on completing the Irish CAO[9] college application process or the UK UCAS system.
    As well as being a Day School, the school also provides tuition programmes at weekends and in the evenings for students sitting the leaving certificate and Junior Certificate, also during mid-term, Christmas[10] and Easter school holidays intense revision courses are available.[11][12] Before start of the school year there is a Pre-Leaving Cert preparation course run, this is an week where students can enroll to improve their ability in a subject or subjects which they will be studying for in the leaving cert.[13][14] The college also offers grinds in some Junior Certificate subjects, such as English, Irish and Mathematics.[15]

    Park College, Galway City
    Student Groups – Alumni Groups
    Since its foundation in 1989/1990, Park College Galway has earned an unrivalled reputation for the quality of tuition provided.

    The Leaving Certificate is arguably the most challenging examination you will ever have to attempt. More than 2,700 students have relied on Park College Galway over the past 18 years.

    Private schools

    Rathdown School, an all-girls institution founded in 1973,

    Teresian School opened in 1965. It is one of a number of schools run by the Teresian Association in different parts of the world.They follow the educational principles of St. Pedro Poveda, a Spanish priest (1874-1936), commemorated by UNESCO as a Christian humanist on the centenary of his birth in 1974.Pedro Poveda was beatified on 10 October 1993 and canonised on 4 May 2003 by Pope John Paul II

    Coláiste an Phiarsaigh The Gaedhealachas Teoranta established the school in 1973,

    Rathdown School for Girls, Dublin: Founded in 1973, Rathdown School is a private day and boarding girls’ school located in Glenageary in south county Dublin, on the east coast of Ireland. We provide 5-day and 7-day boarding for girls ages 12-18 years (Irish and international students) in our senior school, where we offer Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate curriculum programs.
    Rockbrook Park secondary school was founded in 1973 by a group of parents. They wanted an environment that would combine academic excellence, personal attention to each student and sound moral development, with a close working relationship between teachers and parents. Thirty-three years on, this vision continues to inspire everything they do. Education in Rockbrook is grounded on a Christian understanding of the world and of the human person. Drawing on Catholic educational principles and social teaching the school emphasises the importance of character development. The school welcomes and respects students of other beliefs and accommodates these insofar as is practical. Attendance at religious education classes is optional for non-Catholics. Rockbrook emphasises character building as a key component in its educational philosophy. The school is small, thus allowing teachers to get to know their students well and to give more personal attention where required. Class sizes are also small, helping teachers to be aware of individual strengths and weaknesses. The school has strong international links and encourages the learning of languages. There are high standards in Irish, French and Spanish.

    Rosemont Secondary School for Girls, located in South County Dublin, works with parents and students to maximize each student’s potential. Rosemont is one of the best secondary schools in Dublin for families who want their daughters to take ownership of their learning, set goals and pursue their studies with interest and enthusiasm. The school’s academic programme gets results:100% of Rosemont Leaving Certificate students qualified for entry to Irish third-level institutions. Our school was founded by a group of forward-thinking parents in 1977. They knew that strong, effective partnerships between parents and teachers are essential for children to achieve their greatest potential

    St. Patrick’s Academy, founded in 1985, is a private Catholic independent fee paying second level school which provides full-time education for day students. We provide boarding facilities for boys. Girls are accommodated with local families. The school was founded as a student-friendly place where young people can learn and grow academically, spiritually and physically in a safe, caring, environment. The school is situated in a most picturesque setting among trees and woodland in the shadow of Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick. The surroundings lend themselves to a most tranquil atmosphere which in turn helps our students to benefit from a stress-free environment.

    John Scottus School was set up in 1986 by a number of parents who wished their own children to be educated in the light of the philosophical principles which they were meeting in their studies in the School of Philosophy. The School of Philosophy offers evening courses in practical philosophy to adults. The aim of John Scottus School is to provide its vision of education to all who desire it, regardless of race, creed or social background. It further wishes that none should be deprived of access to this education because of financial constraints.

    Also don’t believe withdrawing the € 100 million subsidy will any a effect on the financial status of these schools.
    Here more information :
    notes around the world:
    In Britain in 1969 38% of Oxbridge students came from private schools
    in 2008 45% of Oxbridge students came from private schools.
    Note how Australia theoretically has 30% of its secondary student population in private schools.

  2. Laim smullen

    June 30, 2012 12:07 pm

    Least of all don’t forget our own elite third level courses and collages
    portabella collage (1981)
    The Royal Collage of surgeons charging £37000

    Royal Collage of surgeons

    Fees for the full-time MBA programme
    The fee for the programme is €29,500.
    smurfit business school charging €29,500

    smurfit school

    in 1990 the k-club was founded along with a whole string of golf clubs.


    Least of all don’t forget our own elite third level courses and collages
    The Royal Collage of surgeons charging £37000

    Royal Collage of surgeons

    Fees for the full-time MBA programme
    The fee for the programme is €29,500.
    smurfit business school charging €29,500
    smurfit school
    in 1990 the k-club was founded along with a whole string of golf clubs.

    I am sorry keep posting this i am just not sure you received this posting.