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The History of Education in Ireland

  • Date Submitted: 10/28/2013 06:11 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 40.4 
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Many events throughout Irish education history have influenced today’s education system. Based on the case study of Scoil Briahein a Trí, this essay examines the impact of and issues surrounding the Kildare Place Society (KPS), whose stated aim was to provide non-denominational education to the poor, and the extent of its influence on education since. We also discuss initiatives in place today which aim to improve standards (Whole School Evaluation (WSE)) and combat attendance issues (the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB)). We look at their emergence, their effects on teachers and schools and their effectiveness in general.  

Emergence and impact of the KPS and the NEWB

Politics and religion have been closely linked throughout Irish history. B.Walsh (2008, p35) observes that the education system was used by Britain to strengthen its position in Irish society. Ireland’s educational landscape was changing in the early 19th century, with government commissions identifying a need for standardised education. Keenan (2000) depicts how the foundation of the KPS provided a solution, leading to the state funding of the KPS. Coolahan (1981, p22) illustrates how the KPS professionalised teaching in Ireland, introducing school books, teacher training and inspectorate systems. Keenan (2000) maintains the demise of the KPS was due to the unacceptability of their methods to the Catholic Church. These concerns fuelled debate over state funded education acceptable to all with Akenson (1970) tracing the role played by these events to the eventual foundation of the National Schools System.

Since the National Education Act 1831, different initiatives have aimed to provide children with a certain standard of education, their successes being dependant on school attendance levels. T.Walsh (2007) discusses attendance as a problem in Ireland throughout the 19th century with the issue being addressed by the Powis Commission (1870) and later with the 1926...


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