130. All pupils should go to their nearest geographic school

Why don’t children always go to their nearest primary school? It seems like a fair question. The answer lies in the, at first, strange fixation that people believe they should have a choice in which primary school they can go to.

However, it doesn’t take too long to understand why people want a choice because schools seem to be like snowflake insofar that none are the same. The main difference between schools is in their patronage – i.e. who runs the schools. There really is no reason why we should have so many patron bodies. In fact, I would argue there should be no patron bodies and we simply have one state system.

Other differences are not grounded in research and there really is no reason why someone would travel to a similar ethos school further away from their house, e.g. small schools vs big schools, the perception of the “good” school, country school vs urban school, sporty schools and academic schools and so on.

Then you have other differences – Gaelscoileanna vs English-medium schools and some mildly different methodologies – Sudsbury, Steiner, Montessori, etc.

However, there’s really no need for all these different schools. We need to decide on a common type of public school system and everyone should go to their nearest schools. This would remove a huge number of issues which the current system reinforces.

  • There would no longer be a need for Section 29s
  • There would no longer be a need for enrollment policies
  • There would no longer be a need for religious discrimination
  • Children would all be taught in one language (either Irish or English, but probably Irish if we want to keep it)

I’m sure there’s other divisions. It would also make it much easier for planning. School sizes could be based on population sizes. This would spell an end to half empty urban schools and bursting country schools of the outskirts of towns, or the unfounded concept of the “good” school as opposed to the other schools in a town.

While choice is generally a good thing in life, sometimes it creates more problems than it solves.

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