What’s stopping better information on schools?

Are third level progress charts a flawed and limited metric? Or do they provide valuable information to parents and guardians? The answer to both questions is yes.

Information published in today’s Irish Times is not popular with teacher unions or some politicians, who say they promote elitism and strengthen the position of already privileged schools.

Professor Kevin Deeney, Head of the School of Economics at UCD, takes up the issue. “The basic logic is the following: school is multi-dimensional, it’s not all about points. Such tables don’t reflect this. Arrogance, nothing is better. But since deciding which school to send your kids to One of the biggest decisions many parents make, it is fundamental that they are in a position to make an informed decision.”

College progress data is only one metric, and today we also publish advice on equally important factors that parents or guardians may consider when selecting a second tier school.

At the Orechtas Committee on Education in September 2021, John Irwin, general secretary of the Association for Community and Comprehensive Schools, criticized the media for not including apprenticeships in the “so-called league table”.

But apprenticeship and further education are not excluded from the annual feeder school table as The Irish Times or other newspapers choose to ignore the data.

Rather, it is because data on the parent school of students going for further education and training is not systematically collected and released.

Despite criticism in the media over progress tables, the road to better data has been consistently blocked by the Department of Education and Ministers for Education who know how schools are performing.