Clear steps needed to end inequality in access to college

December 5, 2017

Social Democrats spokesperson on Education Equality and Access, Gary Gannon, has said clear steps must be taken to end our two-tier education system which means privately educated young people have greater access to college.

Commenting on the publication today of The Irish Times league tables, Councillor Gannon said:

“It’s no surprise to see that fee-paying schools dominate when it comes to sending most students to college. Today’s league tables confirm what we already know – that private schools are a way to lock in privilege, as access to university generally means access to better jobs and increased career potential.

“The depth of the social divide we see in these findings must be something that concerns everyone who believes that our education system should ensure the very best of outcomes for all our young people, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.

“Clearly there are a range of supports available to children who attend fee-paying schools, both formal and informal, that work very well for them. These supports need to be available to students in all our secondary schools if we are to increase participation in third level among a wider demographic in our society.”

Cllr Gannon, who himself entered third level education via the access programme of Trinity College Dublin, identified four key supports to ensure more young people can progress to college.

These are:

  • Quality career guidance to help students in first and second year of secondary school to clearly understand and develop pathways to university and their future careers.
  • Formal mentoring schemes so that students are exposed to older people who have benefitted from third level education.
  • State-funded after-school activities for all students, to help build their leadership and social skills.
  • Enhanced focus on the quality of teachers and up-to-date teaching methods through structured Continuing Professional Development programmes.

Cllr Gannon added:

“What we have at the moment is a two-tier educational system whereby people with means can ‘buy in’ a range of advantages for their children – advantages that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. This only perpetuates the inequities that lead to the inevitably poorer educational and career outcomes for children based on their postcode, not on their skills or intelligence.”

ENDS

5 December 2017