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Private Versus Public Schools

Lots of people have contacted me asking for the addresses of private schools in Ireland. These are rare beasts - almost non-existant outside the biggest cities. But, don't worry about it. The public/national schools are almost uniformly superb. Your children will generally get a very superior education wherever you send them.

Yes, Irish education is overly book oriented - particularly so for the youngest kids. Yes, it's sometimes boring instead of being exciting, creative, exploratory, and "relevant." And, yes, anyone who gets through the system will be streaks ahead of their American/British counterparts in their mastery, dedication, and all round basic preparation.

The strictness of the curriculum and the demands of the national exams which drive the entire system ultimately result in quality education - whether it's a public or private school.

That said, there are private high schools. These are often "grind" schools - places where students who have failed to pass their leaving certificate exams go for an intensive year or two. After the shock of failure, the kids are usually intensely motivated and these private institutions have the highest rate of university placements in the nation.

Private Schools

There has been a rush of private high schools built principally in South Dublin during the past few years. The Department of Education funds teacher salaries so the schools are feasible economically at a cost averaging between €5,000 to €8,000 per student. These schools definitely send a higher percentage of their students to university versus technical schools and work. Whether that's because they offer a superior education or because of the necessarily higher socio-economic position of their families is hotly debated.

The other major category of private schools have been the "Gaelscoileanna" or Irish language high schools. At these schools all subjects are taught using Irish/Gaelic language. So, Science and Maths, for instance, are taught exclusively using Irish plus whatever technical lingo is necessary for that subject. In recent years, there has been increased interest in these all-Irish schools and they're a growing part of the educational mix.

Education Ireland provides contact information for many of these private and boarding schools. Click on the "Irish Education" button and choose Primary or Secondary Education from the drop down menu. Finally, you'll see a menu item for boarding schools.

Boarding Schools

The boarding school tradition in Ireland started a century or so ago as a way to provide a non-Catholic education for the protestant Church of Ireland population. As a small minority of the population, the protestant families wanted some way to give their kids a non-Catholic education and the boarding schools were the answer. However, Ireland is a modern, secular society and most of the boarding schools are quite happy if the kids attend mass on Sundays, etc.

Full time boarding schools cost between 12,000 and 17,000 euro depending on the level of accommodation. Many provide their own accommodation, others use local families who are vetted and overseen by the schools.

Most boarding schools are in the Dublin area.

There is no single organisation that provides lists of boarding schools or a single contact point. The best single reference I could find after calling around is International House Dublin. They are the closest thing Ireland has to an overall group booking situation. They handle about 13 different boarding high schools in the Dublin area. They have boys schools, girls schools, co-education schools, stay with families, stay on campus, catholic, protestant - most of what's available in the greater Dublin area.

Tel: +353 1 4759013
Fax: +353 1 4759799

Educate Together

The growing multicultural population and more open mindset of modern Ireland has left many parents dissatisfied with traditional Catholic education. Together, parents in communities all over Ireland have set up their own multi-denominational schools which are funded by the State. The parents set up their own Boards of Management, hire teachers and principals, pay the bills and run their school.

"Learn together to live together" is the movement's motto. Educate Together's website includes contact information for local schools throughout Ireland. The schools serve younger, primary age students.

The Full Site contains Boarding School information.



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