Wednesday 12 December 2018

Editorial: 'Fixation on CAO form is too narrow a view of education'

'Leaving Cert results are not the chequered flag for many students these days: they are the key to a door' Stock image
'Leaving Cert results are not the chequered flag for many students these days: they are the key to a door' Stock image
Editorial

Editorial

A well-educated mind will always have more questions than answers.

Helen Keller's aspiration for a child emerging from an education ought to be high bar for the system.

Unfortunately, it's often the case that pupils emerge from our secondary school system having memorised large chunks of information to regurgitate in exams.

On reaching third-level, students can find themselves unable to adapt to the wider range of learning required.

Leaving Cert results are not the chequered flag for many students these days: they are the key to a door.

The Leaving Cert qualifies a student for higher education, and most importantly, if their school has given a child every chance to go on to what he or she really wants to do, then they have done a good job.

The Feeder Schools list in today's Irish Independent shows going to college is the dominant focus of our schools.

Two in three post-primary schools are now sending at least 70pc of their pupils to third-level, amid historically high college entry rates.

Admirably, without all the benefit of extra resources, State-funded schools are closing the gap on their fee-paying counterparts.

Today's tables tell us our schools work hard to support students to get into universities, institutes of technology and other third-level colleges.

One shoe does not fit all in education. College is suited to many, but not every student.

There are now other routes to a qualification of high standard that students, parents and schools need to concentrate upon, such as apprenticeships.

The fixation on the CAO form as the be all and end all of a second-level education is too narrow a view and fails to acknowledge the value of a blue-collar trade and new white-collar career entry points.

Competitive schools will quote their Leaving Cert results and colleges entries selectively. But this doesn't give you a broad picture of the school and its contribution to the development of children, particularly those who put up no social, learning or economic barriers to entry.

A school's commitment to treating all students equally, regardless of their background or learning level, says far more about their philosophy than any list of grades.

New schools admission legislation aimed at levelling the pitch and creating a fair education system in a number of areas is now enacted, but not all features have commenced. It is aimed at reducing the advantage enjoyed by groups who can afford the lavish fees associated with the private fee-paying sector.

Irish Independent

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