Feeder School tables 'a ridiculous metric', says Construction Industry head

Tom Parlon.

State-funded schools are closing the gap on fee-paying schools, with college entry rates at a historic high.

The annual Feeder School tables, published in the Irish Examiner, follow the transfer of pupils from around 700 schools to more than 30 third-level institutions.

It shows two-thirds of State-run secondary schools are sending 70% of students to college - with 50 non-fee-paying schools showing a 100% college transfer rate.

However, Tom Parlon, Director-General of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), has branded the feeder school league tables "a ridiculous metric".

“The college-feeder schools league tables are in and everyone is celebrating the fact that state schools are catching up with fee-paying schools at getting students into college. However, in championing this career path in isolation, our young people continue to be done a disservice.

"The practice of comparing schools based on the amount of children they get into college is a ridiculous metric that forces everyone down this path, regardless of their aptitude or interest. Especially when you consider that about one in every six young people drops out in the first year of college.

"We need to focus on equality of education and helping young people find the career path best suited to them."

"Allowing schools to continually compete to see what numbers they can get into college, reduces students to just that - numbers - and does not put their interests or their future first.

"Currently, we are finding that schools are not even considering or discussing other options such as apprenticeships with students, at a time when there are great career options available in the construction industry and we expect activity to grow here even further as we continue to become a more modern, innovative and diverse sector.

"Many of those at high levels in the construction industry now began through the apprenticeship route and it is worth noting that it is an approach to education, which also allows students to earn as they learn.”

The tables also show schools in disadvantaged communities are sending many more students to college, but those in the most marginalised areas lag furthest behind.

Labour Senator Aodhan O'Riordan says we need to break the cycle.

He said: "What they did in Finland a generation ago was to examine this on a wide basis and they came up with some answers that sound quite challenging. They don't have competition between schools.

"You'll know around September, October time where you have these billboards up from local schools advertising their open night. Schools are in competition with each other and that means that trying to put your best foot forward, trying to get enrolment up is the fundamental objective."

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