Paying For Fee-Paying Schools

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Gemma writes:

I’m sure you’ll be doing lots of coverage of the Budget this week but I felt that one area of government spending really needs to be highlighted.

The Irish Times is reporting that “Informed sources said fee-paying schools were likely to see a two-point increase in the pupil/teacher ratio, from 21:1 to 23:1, which comes on top of increases last year.”.

However, I have been struggling to understand how the government can justify having any involvement with so called “private” schools, and how they continue to pay teachers’ salaries at these schools, which is basically subsidising exclusive education sites for the elite.

Earlier this year it was stated that government spending on salaries in private schools is €89 million annually.

For anyone that’s interested to find out more, I’ll be covering these and other education issues on my twitter site @EducatingEire

133 thoughts on “Paying For Fee-Paying Schools

  1. Pidge

    I agree that fee-paying schools shouldn’t be subsidised by the government, but – were those subsidies removed – the government would likely have to cut education spending in other areas.

    Cutting the teacher salaries from private schools would drive up the costs, pushing students from the private to the public sector, significantly increasing the costs to the state.

    1. Tom

      So the money would be driven back into public education AND serve to create greater equality. Good! It’s about time we stopped subsidising the elite job network that is the private school system.

    2. Jed

      Imagine a state where there are no private schools. The state pays for the education of every child equally… lets say at a cost of EUR8,000 per child. The quality of education is good.

      Now imagine that that state is faced with a terrible financial crisis. There is a deperate need to save money wherever and however possible.

      Say that in the midst of that crisis some parents come to the state and offer them a way to save money on education. They will set up their own school. (Their reason for doing this might be because they are all of one religion and want that religion taught in the school, or it might be that they want class sizes to be smaller for the benefit of their children, or any other reason… it doesn’t really matter). They say that they will not need thre 8,000 per year subsidy for their children but that they can make their plan work with just 4,500 per year.

      The state welcomes the idea and saves 3,500 per year per child.

      (Alternate ending: the state rejects the proposal on the grounds that it is unfair that all of the children will not be educated in state schools. The state then has to cut funding to 7,000 per child so that the education of all children suffers)

      The state is

      1. k00132203

        At least one person in the country knows something about economics and how to save tax payers money

  2. Trueblue

    I disagree with the belief that paying the salaries of the teachers in private schools is costing the Irish people money.
    First of all those parent’s who have children in private school pay their taxes like most other Irish citizens.
    Secondly and most importantly, whilst the government are giving these private schools money to pay their teachers salaries, they are saving the government a lot more, as if they were public a massive amount of costs would need to be covered by the state and that €89 million would have seemed like a very good deal.

        1. Conor

          +1
          I never went and judging by my career choice (scientist) will never send my children to a Fee paying school. But If I had the money why not? Sending kids to public schools is associated with loads of hidden costs anyway in a way to bridge the gaps and improve the school, at least in privite schools this is streamlined into one payment. Think of it as an investment in your kids school.

          One question?Do they “top up” teachers salaries in these schools?

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Fair points.

      Couple of quick questions…

      1) Do private school teachers get paid the same as public? I would assume so, but I wouldn’t know.

      2) What would you cut first – Special needs or private school subsidies? I would do the latter myself.

      1. Nilbert

        why the second question? why that particular choice? the two are not related.
        the are other places to make cuts and /or raise taxes.

          1. Bob

            Not a relevant question – there are loads of arease where spending will be cut, but they wont drive up spending in other areas as a result

        1. Rob

          When the Minister tasked with balancing the education budget, that’s exactly the question he will be asking himself. Perfectly relevant. Despite the almost audible squirming it prompted.

      2. Paul

        Q: What would you cut first – Special needs or private school subsidies?

        A: I would cut neither. Instead, I would cut tax payer funded teachers salaries across the board regardless of what school they go to.

      3. mike

        In general private school teachers get paid less actually. But they have a greater progression potential.

    2. Tom

      What a ridiculous point, why should we support the old boys network that is the private school system so that we can have the same privileged chinless wonders take public office just so they can engage in decades of clientelism.

      1. Tannoy

        Hang on a sec… Are there any private school people serving as Ministers? I would have thought the problem with talent in the Irish executive was related to the preponderance of family dynasties (which are primarily non-Dublin), not over-educated well-to-do types. This ain’t England.

  3. Stephen Devine

    A child who attends a non-fee school costs the State about €8,000 a year. One who attends a fee paying school only costs €4,500. Therefore there is a saving of €3,500 to the state for every child who attends private school.On a purely financial basis the State’s support of fee-paying schools is an excellent example of public-private partnership
    If funding was to be cut, fees would increase exponentially. Parents currently sacrifice things to be able to send their children to these schools, they are not for the majority the super wealthy. Therefore when fees increase, these children will move into public schools which will increase costs on the state aswell as the strain on the already burdened public education system.
    Parents who send their child to private school are taxpayers. They are entitled to free postprimary education for their children. That they pay tax and then spend more of their income on their child’s education is their right.

    1. CJ

      If you want to save money don’t send your children to fee paying schools rather than argue to case of the cost versus non-fee paying school’s or is the cost not an issue for you?

      “That they pay tax and then spend more of their income on their child’s education is their right.”

      Agreed it is the right of every parent to spend more of their income but it it should not be taken as a given that every taxpayer in the country should have to contribute to that child’s education in a private school in Ireland whee the admissions policy of a lot of these schools could be seen as very biased and favoured.

      1. TheCitizen

        “If you want to save money don’t send your children to fee paying schools rather than argue to case of the cost versus non-fee paying school’s or is the cost not an issue for you?”

        I didn’t understand any of this.

    2. Rob

      Your sums are built on the assumption that kids in private schools will be pulled out on masse and dumped into State schools. I can’t see this happening to be honest. I think families who can afford to pay school fees will, in the vast majority of cases, be able to stump up a bit more. Of course I can’t prove that, but how about cutting the subsidy and then keeping an eye on enrollment numbers? If the rate of decline goes beyond what it has in recent years to the point where it’s no longer providing a saving to the State, then it gets revisited a couple of budgets down the line. That would seem fair, no?

      1. Pad

        ” I think families who can afford to pay school fees will, in the vast majority of cases, be able to stump up a bit more.”

        Any data to support this?

          1. cluster

            There is no data to support either assumption. If subsidies to private schools were cut, the fees would be raised. Some pupils would then be put into public schools and some would remain in private schools.

            Nobody seems to have an accurate idea of what the overall impact might be.

        1. Rob

          As I said above, there’s nothing to support the assertion that people will pull their kids out of these schools if they have to pay more for them. Likewise, there’s nothing to support the assertion that they won’t. That was my point – the only way we’ll know is if we cut the fees and monitor the extend to which enrollments change.

          On the fairness issue – I’d tend to believe that children are born equal and that you shouldn’t be able to purchase an advantage you child will then have over other less fortunate children. The State can’t provide this sort of equality in many aspects of a child’s life – but education isn’t one of them. Have faith in precious little Saoirse and Ross – put them into a State school and let them compete.

          1. ferg

            “Have faith in precious little Saoirse and Ross – put them into a State school and let them compete.”
            Showing your true colours here.

          2. Stephen Frears

            … apart from the fact that we are in a recession and as such it is highly unlikely that alot of the people who send their kids to private schools would be able to “stump up a bit more”. Most of these schools are not profit making and as such would not be able to run for a few budgets before you would have them funded once again. In which case, god forbid, a lot more of your tax money might have to go towards these ‘saoirse and ross’ characters for which you seem to have so much disdain for.

        1. Giggler

          Pat and Anon – you will notice if you keep reading he goes onto say he can’t prove that..

          “I think families who can afford to pay school fees will, in the vast majority of cases, be able to stump up a bit more. Of course I can’t prove that, ”

          I think Rob makes a good point, sadly, I think it may be a tad to logical for this govt.

          1. Zynks

            From what I heard from parents, there were no waiting lists in any private school in Dublin last September, bar two schools.

    3. Stephen Devine

      To say parents will be able to afford it is to simply ignore the reality of the situation. For example CBC Monkstown which 6 years had long waiting lists and 120 pupils in a year, now only has 40 students in first year.

      If fees were to increase even slightly the drain from private schools would be even more stark. The current policy saves the government money, there are enough which costs them money, and just because they aren’t popular to attack without examining the economics, they won’t get column inches.

      1. Tom

        The reason there won’t be change on this is because the inept governments of past and present have been comprised of an old boys network that went to private schools to begin with. Just look at where that pool of talent got us.

        1. Stephen Frears

          lol at your utter fabrication, Go for a bit of research there and prove yourself wrong, all the info is online, very few from private schools in the irish govt

    4. bluedress

      There are many parents who sacrifice alot to put their children through private schools. Not everyone who attends is rich. Raising the fees would mean that many kids would have no choice but to move to an over crowded public school.

      Coming from someone who attended a private school and has parents who have sacrificed and worked very hard to put me through the school. I think I should point out that the reason many middle class parents send their kids to these schools, in particular non-catholic schools are so their kids may have a more open point of view than the catholic run schools.

      Many of the people who disagree with this point should ask themselves whether they would like their children being taught an ethos that they do not believe in?

  4. CousinJack

    Simples, with regard to cost, fairness is another matter, but these are times of austerity, so cost is first

    Fee paying schools in ireland have low fees (€1500 per term) compared to UK where fees are higher (often in the order €4500+ per term). In the UK the government makes no contribution to fee paying schools
    If the Irish systems were to change overnight to UK system, it is likely that well over 3/4 of fee paying students would transfer to national schools (as is their constiutional right)
    In addition to paying the additional teachers salaries the state would also have to pay capitation grant (which is paid to national schools but not fee paying schools)
    Overall changing to the Uk system would cost the Irish state more than the status quo. Plus in dublin particular south Dublin their are not enough national schools (in some areas none) to absorb the additional students and the government would need to buy fee paying schools of the religious bodies that own them, this real estate will not be cheap (how much is the Blackrock campus worth, €200 million? or Monkstown CBC €50M?)

    1. Jebus Cripes

      The point of having a democratic state with rule of law is to ensure fairness. Fairness is not some “optional extra” that can be jettisoned to save money or hassle. Treating one’s fellow citizens with fairness is a moral obligation on all of us, the sine-qua-non of civilisation.

      1. Zynks

        Indeed! Part of that fairness is about allowing parents to invest further on their child’s education if they so wish. For people who are happy with the rather good public education system, the choice is there. Sounds fair to me.

        Some fellow taxpayers telling others that if they choose to spend extra funds on their child’s education they will be penalised even if they are already helping the state save money is what sounds unfair to me.

        1. Jebus Cripes

          Fairness = all citizens pool their resources and give ALL children an EQUAL bite of the pie.

          Do people have the right to decide to spend money on their children’s education? What if someone decides to pay more for their son’s education, but not for their daughter’s? Is it fair on the children to leave these things to the prejudices of individual parents?

          1. Jack

            And if one kid does ballet the other must too. And piano lessons. And school trips. We’ll probably need a new government body to keep track and ensure that every kid is getting what its siblings get but it’s a damn good idea.

          2. Zynks

            “Is it fair on the children to leave these things to the prejudices of individual parents?”

            Subject to the constraints of the law, this is called freedom.

          3. David

            No Sir, that is not fairness; it is Socialism. Forcing all to settle for the lowest common denominator is definitely not fairness.

          4. woesinger

            Nah, Jack – just outsource the automated snooping to a consortium of Tesco, Google and Facebook, and call it the Department of Minding Other People’s Business. It’s not a global village if there’s no twitching curtains.

          5. Ahjayzis

            There we have it ladies and gentlemen. It’s about jealousy and social control.

            My parents scrimped and saved to send me to private school, while paying taxes, which in the end cost the state less and them more.

            But because the muppets across the road spent those savings on holidays and sent the kid to the local school it’s unfair for my parents to so do.

            You don’t get to tell parents they can;t invest in their childrens future because you don’t want to do so with yours.

        2. AmeliaBedelia

          That’s really stretching the concept of ‘fairness’ far and wide. Cost is one issue, but the principle of free and equitable education for all citizens of the state is central. The silly comments below, i.e. “right to spend money on own children’s education”, “piano lessons for all”, evil “socialism” forcing everyone to settle for the lowest common denominator” are just emotive claptrap. The state should not be in the business of ring-fencing of elite areas in education by subsidisation (capital grants and teachers’ pay). Currently parents’ pay an uneconomic price for this private education (unlike in the UK where the “public” schools get no subsidisation from the state) which enables their kids to get : better facilities, better teacher-pupil ratios, extra tuition, better SEN services, and ergo, better CAO results. Private schools can also select pupils based on religion and family connection to the school, which effectively ensures the school environment is an homogeneous one.
          So the only argument pro-subsidisation of fee-paying schools is the cost one? Ideologically bankrupt indeed.

          1. In other words ...

            Great points re: ring-fencing of elite areas in education by subsidisation.

            It’s time for the nation to have a serious debate about properly privatising fee-paying schools so that the subsidies end.

            To make up for the short fall, fee paying schools would have to raise their fees, but they can also look at fundraising models which other private schools internationally have in place, including tapping into their large alumni base for donations.

            Although currently it can be argued that students in fee paying schools cost the state less per child, the savings are minimal compared to the long term costs which build up because of cuts to valuable programs for other student groups. Early school leavers, for example, end up costing the state tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetime, as they are statistically likely to earn less and contribute less taxes over their lifetime, they are also statistically more likely to end up on the dole for longer periods and/or involved in crime, all of which end up costing the state thousands more than a good intervention program. Intervention programs targeting the thousands of young people who drop out of school every year have seen huge government cut backs in recent years.

            It’s time for the government to start re-evaluating its spending priorities, and also to put more thought into the long-term impacts of its education spending.

    2. cluster

      What is the capitation grant per student in the public sector per year?

      I suspect if that if the governement’s subsidy of teacher salaries was pulled and a proportion of those students and/or schools reverted to the public sector there would still be a net saving.

      I do not have any data to prove this but neither, it seems, do any of those claiming the opposite.

  5. Billy

    Real case of cutting of begrudgery.
    People sending their kids to fee paying schools SAVE the state money (admittedly not their motive!)
    Amazing how often you come across those that want to bring everything down to the lowest common denominator for the sake of ‘fairness’
    If you, or your kids, attend state schools why should it matter what others decide to do for their kids given that the subsidy to these ‘rich kids’ is less than to those attending state schools

    1. ZeligIsJaded

      Its the optics Billy, the bloody optics!!

      The schools should have to enrol 4 scanger kids into each class, in the interest of ‘fairness’.

      I don’t care about subsidies, I just want Saoirse and Fintan to know what its like to sit beside someone in class who collects snot, burps the alphabet and eats Custard Creams for lunch!

        1. Billy

          Ah the optics again …. even if they are somewhat flawed.
          In this case optics = begrudgery as bottom line is that it shouldn’t matter to you, or me, who Saoirse & Fintan sit beside when it is costing us LESS in taxes.
          I’m not advocating private education and simply pointing out that everyone is giving extra subsidies to these privileged kids when in fact the absence of such schools would be costing you & I more in taxes.

        1. ZeligIsJaded

          I’m not advocating branding them, absolutely not. Needless pain.

          But could we write on their foreheads with permanent marker maybe?

          1. Rob

            Maybe we should corral the kids and the families they come from into clearly defined, specific areas. You know, with a fence around them. So they don’t contaminate the rest of us.

  6. D

    Clearly the State shouldn’t be contributing to the private school system in a perfect world but it does so that has to be your baseline for changes. If they cut funding overnight like the idealists would like it will end up costing the State much more and result in a poorer education system all round. Perhaps changes can be phased in but Gemma should be careful what she wishes for.

  7. Richard

    It seems to me there are two questions here. One is whether an immediate decrease in public expenditure on private schools would lead to an increase in public expenditure elsewhere. Another is whether a supposedly democratic state should subsidise rich people’s desires for exclusive educational institutions.

    Most supporters of fee-paying schools will focus on the first question, because their answer to the second question is always “yes”. Yes, of course getting the State to undermine public education is a good thing. Yes, of course getting the State to undermine public health care is a good thing. Yes, of course getting the State to undermine public housing is a good thing. Yes, of course getting the State to sell off public assets to private companies is a good thing. Yes, of course paring back welfare state provision is a good thing. Yes, of course everything the Troika says is a good idea, and of course handing over billions in public money to financial speculators is a good idea. Why? Because it makes me filthy rich, that’s why.

    Now, let’s focus on the first question, because that’s the really important one here, right?

    1. Zynks

      On the second question that you want ignored has a very flawed point: the majority of parent of students in private schools are not ‘wealthy’, mostly hard working tax paying parents, with tight monthly budgets as most households in this country. At least this applies to 90% of private school students I know.

      1. Richard

        I don’t know any private school students, but I can imagine that somewhere approaching 100% of parents who send their children to private schools will say they are hard-working tax-paying parents with tight monthly budgets, and somewhere north of 80% of such parents will drum it into their children that they are making sacrifices on their children’s behalf, thereby lumbering their child with a side order of crushing Oedipal guilt to go along with their sense of privilege. But since I am making these figures up based on mere impression, that does not make my argument that trustworthy.

        But if it is indeed the case that lots of parents who send their child to an exclusive private institution struggle financially as a result, so what? The majority of parents -hard working tax payers too, often with financial difficulties- do not send their children to such institutions. Why should we get the State to undermine the public institutions to which such parents send their children, simply because there are some parents, better off in the main, who have no commitment to public education, who see contributions to the public purse as mere user fees for services that they themselves require, and who want to send their children to exclusive schools?

        1. Zynks

          The contribution by the public purse to every child’s education is a constitutional right as far as I am aware.
          Last time I checked you could decide how much, if at all, you wanted to spend on your car, your house, your health insurance, your food. Why should education be any different?
          I think that people who do not respect a parent’s right to go ‘the extra mile’ on their child’s education without being penalised more than they already are is being short sighted and bordering on begrudgery.

          1. Richard

            Right, so the Conservative government in the UK are begrudgers because they don’t pay teacher wages at Eton and Gordonstoun and places like that. Because they’re not respecting the parent’s right to ‘go the extra mile’ on their education. Gimme a break.

      2. cluster

        This old chestnut, most of the parents with kids in private schools are not wealthy, they are from ordinary households straining to get the best for their offspring. As if those who send their kids to public schools don’t really want the best for theirs.

        Having gone to both public and private schools, the majority of people were pretty decent in both but most of those in my private school were relatively wealthy at least judging by material possesions.

    2. Jim

      +1

      The majority of private schools in Dublin are located in the wealthiest areas of the county for a reason.

      1. TheCitizen

        Because all of those schools have been there for at least a generation and all studies ever have shown that education while young increases earning potential later in life making the areas where educated people live wealthier?

        There seems to be people here who want all newborn kids to be put into a jar and allocated at random every year to make it all “fair”.
        Why work at all if not to provide for your kids? The result of this is that people who make sacrifices give their next generation a better chance of surviving and less likely to go around putting salt and vinegar on their shoulders to have their tea.

        1. Jim

          Quite simply I believe the state should not allocate funding to a school where the entry requirements are primarily based on income, family history and/or religion.

          The reality of course is different, costs are the bottom line so the state will always subsidize private schools in Ireland.

          But the idea that 90% of the private school parents have always “struggled” to pay is an absolute joke. Some do, but 90%? Get real.

  8. General Waste

    So on the basis of all the arguments above can I send my kids to publicly-subsidised private schools thus saving the exchequer money? Why don’t we all do it? Oh……

    1. cluster

      Or is it because those who have the most at stake (parents of kids in private schools) tend to be better connected than the average.

      Data to prove your assertion?

  9. Jim.

    as an ex pupil of blackrock college i find it shocking that the public was made pay for my education. most, if not all of the pupils’ parents could have afforded to pay significantly more fees. why subsidise the wealthy? it’s beyond corrupt.

    1. Michael

      As another former pupil of Blackrock, I can say that my parents sacrificed a lot to afford the fees. Many, if not all of my friends were the same. As already argued by others here, many like me would have been costing the state more in public schools.

      1. JP

        ‘As another former pupil of Blackrock, I can say that my parents sacrificed a lot to afford the fees. Many, if not all of my friends were the same. ‘

        Cry me a river

        1. Michael

          I’m not looking for sympathy. My parents could afford the fees by sacrificing things like expensive foreign holidays. I’m not saying we couldn’t afford the shopping. This is just to contrast Jim’s point on how much the families of fee-paying students can afford.

      2. Jim.

        I hear that nonsense from a lot of Rock boys – it’s bulls@it – my parents sacrificed some minor things for my education – but why should we get two pools, tennis courts, extra teachers, transition year, jubilee hall, etc. mostly paid for by working class and lower class tax receipts. it’s unfair. plus, we get the advantage of a private education, which in snobby old ireland gets you contacts and networks. If your parents sacrificed a lot, at least they had something to sacrifice – most people don’t.

    2. Bob

      There is a significant difference between the elite Catholic fee-paying schools, and the non-discriminatory protestant schools. Protestant schools are first and foremost attended by protestants, but there is no academic selection policy. Protestant schools are open to those of the Catholic faith and none, once demand from protestants has been met. In most cases, pupils attend protestant fee paying schools, because there is no non-fee paying protestant school near them – For these parents Its not really a choice, particlarly if they need to attend a boarding school due to the distance involved. The government knows that changing the system overnight would be a disaster, and so they will continue to snip away at subsidies, bit by bit, in the hope that people will keep paying fees, and save the taxpayer a fortune

  10. mike

    The state funds ALL children to a minimum standard of education. We all pay our taxes so all our kids should get the benefits of state funded education.

    Ignore the fact that people who send their kids to private schools probably pay more taxes than the general population.

    Ultimately though it comes down to common sense. We can continue to part-fund private schools. Or we can fully fund them when they go public if the part-funding is pulled. I think part fund myself!

  11. Joejay

    I love when people use the term “the elites” – in my eyes your arguments are instantly rendered laughable.
    Put down your copy of the Irish Sun, log out of your politics.ie account and pick up a book you cretin.

    1. droid

      You could do with picking up a book yourself. Start with the dictionary.

      elite, élite [ɪˈliːt eɪ-]
      n
      1. (sometimes functioning as plural) the most powerful, rich, gifted, or educated members of a group, community, etc.

      This is a pretty accurate description of those who patronise fee paying schools.

      1. TheCitizen

        If they are the most educated people in the community then why are they going to school?

        It always puzzles me why people will aspire to “Elite” when it comes to biscuits but not to life.

        Serious lack of facts above apart from the consensus that removing free choice will cost the state money. Maybe some of us choose to believe our parents had nothing to sacrifice rather than accept they preferred Sky Sports and having us around than packing us off to boarding school?

        1. droid

          Even the ‘elite’s’ need to be educated at some point. Otherwise who will play in our rugby teams, bankrupt our banks and fail to govern our country?

          Also, removing subsidies from fee paying schools is not a ‘removal of free choice’. You’re still free to pay for private schooling, only you will now have to pay the actual economic cost.

  12. Joejay

    Jim – the taxes those parents paid should only benefit the lower earners should they? And not them? Seems fair yep yep

    1. cluster

      They are perfectly entitled to attend public schools and higher earners outside of Dublin tend to send their children to the local schools (a few boarders aside).

      This results in better overall educational attainment.

    1. woesinger

      Scary in the first Halo, progressively less so in the later instalments.

      Unless you’re talking about the chocolate-covered biscuits, in which case, nevermind.

  13. KeithFahey's moustache.

    Thank you to those with constructive contributions above, I have learnt an awful lot about how the private education system works here.

  14. Nilbert

    I tihnk you sahould probably take down that picture of Mount Anville students. Some parents are wary of having their children’s photos on websites…

  15. Claire

    What about the tax breaks awarded to wealthier schools? Schools where parents can afford to donate 250euro or more in voluntary contributions are entitled to claim money back. Last year one school in Dublin, not named, got in and around 80000 extra in state support. I imagine this was most likely a private school. I teach in a school in Dublin and we lost our only very much needed resource teacher last year because of cuts. Where is the sense?!

    1. tarfhead

      FYI, the tax back scheme is not the preserve of fee-paying schools. My son is heading for secondary school and has been offered a place in the local school. Not a private fee-paying school. To accept the place we had to pay a EUR 250 deposit. When paid this was acknowledged with a letter saying ‘thank you for your donation ..’ and enclosing a form for the tax back scheme.

  16. WTH

    hahaha……OP feels this issue needs to be highlighted?

    Really?

    It doesnt get much media coverage?

    There havent been a gazillion threads on fee paying schools and the rights and wrongs of them?

    This topic is not just highlighted, its flogged to death.

    1. droid

      The pupil teacher ratio in public schools is 28:1 on average. Much higher in some areas.

      If fee paying schools want to preserve their teacher ratio numbers, they can always pump some of the millions in profit they make every year into wages.

      Also, if they want ‘equal’ treatment from the state they could start treating their pupils ‘equally’. For a start they could stop expelling girls who become pregnant and stop refusing pupils based on their disability.

      1. mike

        Millions in profit? Nearly all fee paying schools are non-Profit organisations. Certainly in my experience I’ve never encountered one making more than the most modest of surpluses.

        1. droid

          Yes. ‘Modest’ surpluses. Thats how Gonzaga “spent €20m in 2007 and doubled the size of its campus by building a new library, an IT suite, 16 classrooms, and a theatre”…

          1. Zynks

            I don’t know about Gonzaga, but Belvedere had a big project paid mostly by a well known former student – not from surpluses or profits.

  17. illuminati16

    amazing the amount of me feiners that come out on this issue, if it was a subsidy for something that didn’t affect them it would be cut cut cut, pathetic nimbys and self servers should not be listened to

  18. barry

    This thread started on a ratio increase, i.e. more pupils, same number of teachers. The (new) ratio is still below the public schools I’d imagine (feel free to contradict).

    More pupils = more people with the money to pay; in a time of supposed austerity!!

    To save money, since we appear to be bankrupt, stop paying these schools the subsidy, it seems they can manage quite well already.

    Fairness in a bankrupt economy = less for all but spread evenly. This should apply across the board, so those with resources, even those that require a ‘sacrifice’ to use them should contribute more. If they decide to send their children to (non-subsidised) schools so be it, but they still need to pay their share of the general costs.

    1. GarPrivate

      Actually, nowhere does it state that the number of teachers remains the same, or that the number of pupils in these schools is increasing.

      It is far more likely that in the past few years, the demand for fee-paying schools has decreased as less people can afford the fees. As a result, no new teachers are being hired, and neither are replacements being sought for those teachers who are retiring, taking maternal/paternal leave, sick leave, taking a sabbatical, emigrating, etc., so the overall number of teachers working in fee-paying schools is starting to decline.

      The latter appears to be happening at a slightly higher rate than the former (probably because private schools have dropped the price of fees in order to stimulate some sort of demand, meaning some pupils can still attend these schools at a cheaper rate, rather than not afford to attend them at all) , thus accounting for the increase in the pupil/teacher ratio from 21:1 to 23:1.

  19. Keith Flynn

    After reading all the above comments it is clear that the majority is begrudgery and resentment. Why don’t those that are against the state paying teachers wages in private schools simply just say so and we can have an open debate about peoples perceptions. I for one was raised in an ‘lower class’ family close to the poverty line and I am still struggling but I choose to pay extra for my child to have a private education. People try to make it a debate about the rights of children which is clearly nonsense, parents choosing to spend our hard earned money on education should be encouraged more and more because it simply works.

    1. Richard

      I am against the state paying teachers wages in private schools. If you want to pay more for private schooling then go ahead, but I don’t see why I should be paying for your child to go to an exclusive institution.

      It’s precisely because I believe that your child, like any other child, has the right to a good quality free education that I do not wish to pay for your child to go to an exclusive institution. The fact that exclusive fee-paying schools are subsidised by the State is contrary to how a democratic state ought to function.

    2. JP

      ‘parents choosing to spend our hard earned money on education should be encouraged more and more because it simply works.’

      Knock yourself out but surely you don’t expect a special subsidy from everybody else?

      Also you’re clearly not the poor mouth you paint yourself as if you’re forking out for something you could otherwise get for free.

      1. aquisce

        I find it amazing that people think they are “paying for your child to go to an exclusive institution” or “don’t expect a special subsidy from everybody else”. Could you imagine me as a taxpayer saying to someone on social welfare rent supplement “don’t expect a special subsidy from me for your home”, because by your arguments taxpayers should be saying those kinds of things. But they don’t because we all understand these things are built into a ‘democratic state’ as you put it. And education is not free, it costs us as taxpayers hundreds of millions of Euros every year and I’m afraid your view saying it is free simply highlights your prejudice and/or ignorance. Every child is entitled to the same level of teaching by the state, if some parents want to add money to supplement that it should be their ‘democratic’ right to do so.

        1. droid

          I agree. Families who cant afford housing get subsidised, but I dont get anything to help pay for my Tuscan villa.

          Where’s the subsidy for my 2012 Merc and my private jet?

        2. Richard

          I find it amazing that people think they are “paying for your child to go to an exclusive institution”

          You’re easily amazed. I pay taxes. Those taxes are used to fund teacher salaries at exclusive institutions. Therefore I am paying to send children to exclusive institutions.

          Could you imagine me as a taxpayer saying to someone on social welfare rent supplement “don’t expect a special subsidy from me for your home”, because by your arguments taxpayers should be saying those kinds of things.

          No, because a decent home, education and health care are things that ought to be available to all in a democratic society, as a matter of right arising from citizen equality; not as a matter of privilege.

          So there is a difference between rent supplement getting paid to someone so that they can receive a minimum standard of housing, and someone else getting state funding so that they can send their child to an exclusive institution. One is paid in vindication of democratic rights, and the other is paid in order to protect privilege. In fact, the juxtaposition of the two examples illustrate the patent injustice of state-subsidised fee paying education. Why should someone in receipt of rent supplement be paying through the state towards the exclusive education of the wealthy?

    3. cluster

      I went to a private school. I thought it was a pretty good school, however I don’t think it is morally defensible for the government to subsidise such schools.

      I would also love to see some reasonable proof of the fact that removing this subsidy would result in a net cost to the state. It seems to be stated as fact all the time.

  20. frillykeane

    Look’it since time began one rule has at most times tried to be enforced.

    What ever is cheaper for the State
    So in the classical ‘what ever yer having yerself’ debate on fee non fee paying schools the above will apply

    College fees however … It’s a hearty and unrelenting Stump Up lads from this bench

    1. pedeyw

      May I ask why? I learned a whole lot in college and gained a degree none of which I could have managed were it not for free fees.

      1. GarPrivate

        Because you could have still gone to college, learned a whole lot and gained a degree, and *then* paid back the cost of your obviously-highly-beneficial-third-level-education over the course of your career (which you now have as a result of this college education) to the taxpayers who funded it in the first place, thus freeing up more state revenue to be spent in hospitals, schools, and/or avoiding further cuts to other crucial frontline services.

  21. Gingersunited

    I currently send my three kids to a private school, I did not want them educated under a Catholic Ethos. There were no alternatives in my area, although there may be more now. I have gone back to work to pay for their education, as is my choice (No one is forcing me). It is definitely a two tiered system and I see the huge unfairness that has been discussed. I also see the same unfairness in the health system, and yet, we seem to keep promoting Private Health Care. The Government would be totally unable to take on the cost of these schools if all of these children suddenly became part of the public education system. The Teaching Unions and the Labour Party definitely want to see an end to Private Edcucation, but they have not offered an alternative to parents who do not wish their children to be educated as Catholics and they have not offered a realistic financial solution letting us kow exactly how they would replace private schools.

    1. droid

      Isn’t Ruairi Quinn attempting to change the school patronage system at the moment? Its a modest reform but a step in the right direction.

    2. David Roe

      I think there are good arguments on both sides. But on the ‘State shouldn’t support fee-paying schools’ doesn’t this also mean that there should be no universal payments? For instance, child support payments – surely anyone who can afford to feed and clothe their kids shouldn’t get this, or else it should be taxed?

      Also, if we do this, why does the state pay for the religious education of (some) children. Religious education is taught by primary teachers every day, paid for by the state. Why? Surely these religious elites should pay for their own religious education.

      1. droid

        Only if you consider having kids a ‘luxury’ or ‘privilege’, as opposed to ‘essential for the future prosperity of the state and it’s citizens’.

      2. Richard

        But on the ‘State shouldn’t support fee-paying schools’ doesn’t this also mean that there should be no universal payments? For instance, child support payments – surely anyone who can afford to feed and clothe their kids shouldn’t get this, or else it should be taxed?

        No, it doesn’t. State support for fee-paying schools has nothing to do with universality.

        In fact, State funded fee-paying schools by their very nature militate against the principle of universality. That is one very good reason why such schools should receive no such funding. Universality in service provision means availability to all members of society regardless of their income or means, whereas funding for fee-paying schools means securing exclusivity. For the State to maintain such institutions is fundamentally anti-democratic.

        If we were to abolish child benefit as a universal payment, and opt to means test it or tax it in accordance with the parental ability to pay, what we are saying is that it is down to the parents alone to be concerned with children, i.e. it is not payment for work that society deems valuable because it is concerned with bringing up children, but simply charity for those who have been unable to fulfil their duties towards their children.

        1. aquisce

          Richard, as the day has gone on your bias has become clearer; to the extent I’m guessing your surname is Boyd Barrett ;-) We all as citizens of the state have universal rights and entitlements, we can all get social housing, we can all get ‘free’ education and we can all get access to the HSE. But most people choose to get a job or be self employed and use that money to buy extra health insurance for access to private hospitals (which receive State funding), they use it to get a mortgage and buy a home so they don’t have to avail of social housing and some choose to put extra money towards education. Yes there are flaws in our system, clearly, but private bodies all across Ireland receiving funding from the state and if you are to be consistent with your logic then all these would have to be looked at. And one other point, if state payments to private school teachers were to be stopped then 50% plus of families would have to pull their children from the schools leaving the upper crust of the so called ‘elite’ and furthering the social inequality that you perceive exists.

          1. Richard

            What do you mean most people ‘choose’ to get a job? Most people have no option but to get a job. As for the notion that they ‘choose’ to pay for private health insurance, that is certainly more of a ‘choice’, but it arises from a fear premium more than anything: a fear that public hospitals will not meet their needs. Furthermore it is worth pointing out that in many cases, the ‘choice’ of taking out a mortgage was brought about by rises in the cost of housing relative to income and the fear that those costs would continue to rise in future.

            Again, a democratic society would not institutionalise private health care -that is, health care that is not available to everyone, health care that is not universal- as a matter of right. But that is what Irish society has done. Part of it is down to the authoritarian legacy of the Catholic Church and John Charles McQuaid who thought a national health service would lead to totalitarianism, and another part of it is down to the lucrative possibilities of private health care for certain medical practitioners and venture capitalists, among others.

            So, yes, you’re right, this does entail a certain consistency in logic: the State should not confuse private and exclusive goods and services with universal goods and services that ought to be available to all citizens (in the broadest sense of the term) regardless of their income and arising from their basic democratic rights. That applies to health, to education, and to housing.

            Call it ‘bias’ if you will; I call it basic democratic conviction.

      3. cluster

        Perhaps if your non-Catholic private school wasn’t receiving a subsidy, the state school issue would have been sorted by now.

        1. David Roe

          Thanks for your comment aquisce, you stated what I was trying to say much more clearly.

          And cluster – I don’t have a non-Catholic private school, my kids aren’t old enough for that yet. But I agree, I don’t think private education should be subsidised, if you want to educate your kids privately, or religiously, then pay for it yourself. I would remove all religious education from all schools. And I think you have to do this, before you can withdraw funding from fee-paying schools.

  22. Camilla

    I bet you didn’t know that protestants get grants to go to protestant boarding schools (which are among the best private education schools in the country) even if they have the means to go. no jokes its a disgrace. But the matter of why teachers are being paid in private schools are because the schools themselves are public but the facilities of the school are what you pay for.

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