Public and Private Schools

How Management and Funding Relate to their Socio-economic Profile

image of Public and Private Schools

In most PISA-participating countries and economies, the average socio-economic background of students who attend privately managed schools is more advantaged than that of those who attend public schools. Yet in some countries, there is little difference in the socio-economic profiles between public and private schools. Why? An analysis of PISA results finds that while the prevalence of privately managed schools in a country is not related to socio-economic stratification within a school system, the level of public funding to privately managed schools is: the higher the proportion of public funding allocated to privately managed schools, the smaller the socio-economic divide between publicly and privately managed schools. This report also shows that those countries with narrow socio-economic stratification in their education systems not only maximise equity and social cohesion, but also perform well in the PISA survey.



A brief history of public and private involvement in schools in Ireland

In Ireland, the management of schools at second level is complex.1 Virtually all second-level schools in Ireland were owned and controlled by religious entities until 1931. The establishment of Vocational Educational Committees (VECs) in 1931 (Government of Ireland, 1930) introduced a new and separate tier of vocational schooling. The introduction of free education in 1967 (Department of Education, 1966) occurred alongside rapid growth in participation in second-level education, and these developments, coupled with the fact that students in vocational schools could take the national examination, given after Grade 12, to obtain a Leaving Certificate, blurred the distinction between the education offered in privately owned and managed schools and vocational education. Community and comprehensive schools, which began appearing in the late 1960s, added other kinds of ownership arrangements to the education system, although they represent only a minority of schools at second level (Coolahan, 1981).


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