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Reilly’s excuses deserve further scrutiny

Your account of Minister James Reilly’s grovelling excuses to the UN Human Rights Commission in respect of lack of parental choice in respect of their children’s schooling deserves further scrutiny.

While all are agreed that something has to be done to ensure that the State provides sufficient school places to meet the education needs of families, there seems to be little radical thinking on the part of politicians, including successive education ministers as to how this might be achieved.

If our Government was to follow the English school funding model, we would liberate the whole system and give massive power to parental choice.

In the English funding system, the parents of each young person are effectively awarded a voucher for a sum of money, let us say €6,000 and are free to use that money to receive education in any recognised public sector school.

As an English school principal it ensured that I treated every parent and every child as a valuable customer who brought their business to me and who was free to take their business elsewhere.

In my last Catholic school, we more than doubled our annual intake from 80 to 180 students and, if we wished, such was the demand, we could have increased still further.

The funding model contained a capital element that allowed for the possibility of school expansion.

I argued this in my submission to the Forum on Patronage but heard no more about it. It’s adoption would have freed up the debate about diversification, would have respected parents’ views and satisfied the UN.

Surely it’s time for our politicians to get real and think outside the box!

Alan Whelan
Co Kerry


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