Educational Isolationism With Nord Anglia, Ireland’s Newest Private School

I spent much of my childhood attending private, fee-paying schools in the leafy – or sandy – suburbs of north county Dublin, mixing in the main with students from other affluent or socially ambitious families. Back then, the country still lacked the rigid social strata found among some of its European neighbours, notably the hierarchical United Kingdom. Consequently the only hurdle to entry was the ability of parents to pay the exorbitant annual fees. I was just as likely to mix with the son of a well-off farmer or the offspring of a prosperous shopkeeper as the pampered progeny of bankers and solicitors (though precious few women or girls, the ubiquitous cleaners and canteen-workers aside).

Those early experiences have left me with a strong aversion to private education. Instinctively, as a republican, I have a firm belief in the efficacy of universal and public education. Admittedly, I have no family or children of my own, but in my opinion greater value should be placed on the socially levelling nature of shared education, of individuals and communities interacting and integrating with each other through learning (and play!). By experiencing the same schooling, the same syllabuses, we produce a more cohesive and united society. Quite frankly I have no time for private or religious schooling of any kind. The citizens of a republic should be educated together, just as they must live together, bound by a common sense of self, of who we are as a nation (or who we wish to be). This, I suppose, is one of the few areas where I am more of a socialist than a social-democrat. Aside from after-school or weekend classes, I would prohibit private education and require all children to attend public and wholly secular schooling (independently managed by employees and parents, with an end to partisan or faith-based patronage).

So, you can imagine my absolute disgust while reading this report by The Journal:

IRELAND’S MOST EXPENSIVE school is set to open its doors in Dublin this September, with fees of up to €24,000 a year, and its students won’t have to follow the State curriculum.

The Nord Anglia International School in Sandyford, Dublin will instead offer both Irish and international students the International Baccalaureate (IB). The qualification is recognised globally and students receive a diploma upon completion of the course.

The school will initially allow enrollments from children aged between three and 15.

Crute said that the school will offer Irish as a subject, but it won’t be compulsory. Instead, Crute said the school will focus on internationally-taught subjects.

The school will offer facilities to students to make them feel connected to its sister schools around the world…

The reaction from the principal at Dublin’s Nord Anglia, Paul Crute, when interviewed on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, is telling:

In terms of operating under the guidance of the Department of Education, O’Rourke asked would the school be engaging with the department, which was met by a long pause before Crute asking “in terms of what?”.

He said the school wouldn’t be evaluated by the Department of Education because it “will not be taking any public funding whatsoever”.

I’m sorry, and no doubt some will criticise me for this, but this smacks of educational segregation, with a wealthy and ideologically driven elite choosing to cut themselves off from the society and nation-state in which they live. It doesn’t matter a whit to me that this new school will be self-financing or that it will refuse public funding. If it stands apart from the education system of Ireland, by its own choice, then it is less a welcome and culturally enriching newcomer and more an unwelcome and culturally isolated occupier.

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15 comments

  1. Ironic considering the defence of Soros liberal elite educational institutions and “open society” foundations ideologically dedicated to undermining the very notion of the Nation-states they are based in.

    1. Republican nature versus elitist nurture? 🙂 I suppose my family background on both sides and my parents’ liberal/leftish attitudes offset the tendency to view oneself as above the hoi polloi. Plus whatever innate sensibilities I have myself. Plus, back then the schools I attended were much more socially mixed than they are today. By mixed, I mean the offspring of the aspirant working and lower middle classes, the urban and rural, had greater a greater presence than is now the case.

  2. Totally agree. This is an alien intrusion into the irish educational system. This is a strategy of socially and culturally insulating children from the higher bourgeois class in Ireland from all those nasty smelly descendents of peasants. This system has been long established in scotland. Schools such as Fetts, in Edinburgh, are a class colonisation of the Scottish public space where the Anglo-Scots elite can give their children an elitist, “Safe” education totally divorced, socially and educationally, from the celtic society around them. Blair went to such a school. The function of these Scottish schools, is to provide a protected elite space where the general population can be kept out, and avoid contamination of the children of the elites. They must be ruthlessly dealt with, and the method is to pasnew education laws, about the teaching of core curriculum,the compulsory teaching of irish, and the teaching of irish history, language and culture. Also compulsory education department inspection, and supervision. If they disobey the law, they get shut down, via a licencing system. Every school in the republic should require an operating licence, and regular inspection, Plus public reports, Most countries in Europe operate such a system. It is also not at all clear what the background and nationality is of the management of this school. Does the school chief have residency rights, work permit, etc. Who, and what, are the mysterious other schools of this type that they are going to link with internationally. Frankly, some urgent legal advice is needed on what the Irish government powers are, over such a school, and what can be done by way of supervision, inspection, etc. If the irish elite want to end their kids to such a school, there are plenty on the UK mainland, but we really do not want them here in ireland. They are politically and culturally dangerous threats to irish identity and social cohesion.

    1. Oh, they rule ok, but I was not at the highest level in terms of private schooling. More entry level. Which still existed back then. Now, the socio-economic divide is far deeper. As I said, they may have been posh private schools but the students were not necessarily themselves all from posh backgrounds. We were very mixed. I had working class school mates with super-ambitious – or generous – parents. We became the Celtic Tiger generation.

  3. Do you really think “the ability of parents to pay the exorbitant annual fees” doesn’t form the rigid social stratum?

    1. Not as rigid as is now the case. My schools contained a good social mix, even for fee-paying institutions. The supposed class distinctions which have become so prevalent in Irish society were less explicit back then. They existed but you rarely heard pejorative reference to them. Most of us were only a generation or two removed from bread-and-butter treats and coddle, if you get my meaning.

      One of my ex-girlfriends went to what is now regarded as a “posh” secondary school in her teens yet she spent her summers picking fruit and veg in Fingal with her siblings to bring in extra money at home.

  4. I’m not quite sure what my message is except “beware of private schools and the risen people” – educationally-wise!
    Back in the day my father’s “private” education prepared him well for an elite university, as did my independent school. My son’s EU state education got him ready for our European future. It’s the way of the world – private education seems anachronistic.Attempts to revive and prolong it seem doomed to failure ( exceptions made for the UK and students who can’t manage to pass examinations within the state system)

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