ERG SES D 01, Interactive Poster Session
THE STRUGGLE FOR EQUITY: A STUDY OF NON-STATE DISADVANTAGED SECOND
LEVEL SCHOOLS FROM A SOCIAL JUSTICE PERSPECTIVE
Over 12,000 students attend 33 disadvantaged non-state second level schools in the Republic of Ireland, the subject of this study. They are discriminated against through state funding mechanisms.
The working hypothesis of this study is that these schools are being asked to carry a disproportionate burden, particularly in financial terms, in sustaining the charism and ethos of their founders and their current trustees.
The features which set these schools apart include:
1. the funding structures for non-state second level schools which means that they receive less state support than their counterparts,
2. they are mainly found in urban settings, with old buildings that demand higher maintenance and insurance costs,
3. the parents of the pupils who attend such schools come from disadvantaged settings, and are unable to provide financial support to these schools,
4. the children of recent arrivals of immigrants and asylum seekers are over-represented in such schools, and
5. they have relatively low levels of progression to third level.
At first glance these pupils face considerable disadvantages.
Their schools come under the governance of the recently established trusts such as The Edmund Rice Schools Trust, Ceist and Le Cheile. Such trusts have evolved in response to the falling numbers of religious, brothers and nuns who would, in the past, fill leadership positions in their schools.
This research has several objectives:
1. to examine the rationale for the establishment of these trusts and their historical context.
2. to delve into the daily operation of these trusts, conducting an ethnography and interviewing trust members.
3. to document the relationship between the schools and their trusts drawing on the experiences of past and present principals.
4. to make policy recommendations in the light of the findings.
The likely research questions that will be examined include:
1. Why were these Trusts established.?
2. What purposes are they meant to achieve?
3. What is the experience of disadvantaged non-state schools under their trusteeship?
4. What concerns exist about the operation of these trusts?
5. What are the future prospects for these trusts?
6. What are the likely consequences for non-state disadvantaged schools if the current
arrangements for funding remain in place?
OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH
There are a number of objectives of this research, which include:
1. To chart the historical background to the establishment of disadvantaged non-state second level schools.
2. To outline the various other forms of second level schools and their funding structures.
3. To establish the functions of the second level trusts which, in the main, govern disadvantaged non-state second level schools.
4. To map the various attempts by the state, through the Department of Education and Skills, to alleviate disadvantage.
5. To record and analyse the experiences of current and previous principals of disadvantaged non-state second level schools, of the supports offered by their various trusts.
6. To establish the views of senior figures who run the .trusts.
7. To provide compelling findings to influence policy in this area.
Essentially this study will examine some of the inequities that exist within the Irish second level
education system. As such it falls within the remit of social justice inquiry which
examine inequities and equality, barriers and access, poverty and privilege, individual rights
and the collective good. Furthermore social justice inquiry takes a critical stance with regard
to social structures, such as education, that are key to shaping the futures of individuals
(Charmaz, in Denzin and Lincoln, Sage, Los Angeles, 2011).
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