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The Price of Education


Posted by School Run Mum on 07/09/2011. Tags: School Run Mum Parenting Education And Politic Teachers

text re imageLast week, my eldest child started Senior Infants. One of the discussions taking place among parents at the school gate was whether we had enrolled our children for secondary schools. Some had, I hadn’t and a mild panic set in when I was advised to get onto it straight away, otherwise my, now six-year-old, might not get a place in our preferred school when the time comes.

Trouble is, we don’t really know which is our preferred school. As parents who were both educated in non-fee paying schools outside the county we now live in, we have no knowledge or connections to any of the schools in the area.

Looking into it further, we basically have a choice of three schools – two non-fee paying and one fee-paying. We now have our son enrolled for all three, figuring that we will make the decision about whether the fee-paying school (€4,000 a year) is in any way a financial reality for us, when the time comes.

So, it was with some interest that I read the excellent article in the Irish Times at the weekend which asks the question: ‘Private Schools: are they worth it?’ What all parents seem to have in common is that they ultimately want the best education for their children – whatever the cost. For many parents, the assumption is often made that if an education costs more, it is better. But this isn’t necessarily so, with non-fee paying schools often performing as well, if not better than fee-paying schools. For other parents, paying up to €5,500 a year for their child’s education is never going to be a reality, and the non-fee paying school will be the only real option, regardless of performance statistics.

Despite the recession, there is still fierce competition for places at the well-regarded fee-paying schools. With one school already taking a registration for 2022, the mind boggles as to how difficult it might become in a few years’ time to secure a place for your child at any school – fee-paying, or otherwise! And bear in mind that for some fee-paying schools, you will be required to pay a significant deposit (up to €400) to register, or secure your child’s place – which can become a tricky conundrum when you’re waiting for places to be confirmed from several schools you may have applied to.

Whatever your personal thoughts on whether you could, should or would pay for your child’s education, my advice is to weigh up the local options and complete the registration forms.  Secondary school may seem like a very long way off, but better to at least give yourself a decision to make, rather than a decision being forced on you which you may not be happy with. 

In the meantime, it's probably a good idea to start putting your loose change into the piggy bank. Every little helps, as they say.


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