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ESRI Report into Governance and Funding of Voluntary Secondary Schools in Ireland Launched

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The report outlines the aim of the study as follows:

"This study presents a comprehensive picture of educational governance and financing among second-level schools in Ireland. There are three second-level sectors in Ireland,1 which have their origins in historical developments and policy changes: voluntary secondary schools, vocational schools (including community colleges), and community/comprehensive schools (see Chapter 3). Broadly interpreted, governance refers to the ownership, organisation and management of schools. The mode of governance varies across different types of schools, with voluntary secondary schools increasingly being governed by lay School Trusts; community/comprehensive schools under the joint trusteeship of religious orders and the state while vocational schools (including community colleges) are under the trusteeship of the state. The way in which the different school types are financed and the extent to which the state supports the trusteeship function across the three second-level sectors also varies, as shown in this report.

"While all sectors have undergone significant changes since the conception of the education system, these changes have been particularly pronounced in denominational 2 voluntary secondary schools, the prime focus of this study. Denominational schools have been an important part of the educational landscape in Ireland and currently make up just over half of all second-level schools catering for almost 60 per cent of all second-level student intake. Recent years have seen a decline in the number of religious personnel, resulting in less direct involvement of religious orders in school governance and the emergence of new structures in the form of lay Education Trust Companies responsible for the education enterprise and properties. In tandem with this development, members of religious orders who previously provided Trustee services on a voluntary (unpaid) basis have been replaced by paid personnel funded by Congregations or independent Trust Companies. In the context of constrained educational expenditure in general, these developments have raised concerns about the sustainability of the voluntary secondary sector (McGrath, 2006; Reynolds, 2005)."

"This study seeks to provide new evidence to inform the debate on school governance and funding. It draws on in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in Ireland, including the representatives of Education Trust Companies, vocational and community/comprehensive school sectors as well as the Department of Education and Skills and religious organisations; administrative data, and a large-scale representative survey of second-level chairpersons of school boards of management and school principals. The analysis of data on the Irish context is contextualised with an analysis of school and funding structures in four international case-study jurisdictions [UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada (Ontario)]."

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Download the ERSI Report Summary Booklet.

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