Timely but flawed

The Sunday TImes ran an interesting feature today on the performance of secondary schools in Ireland. However, I must admit I found the ranking system wanting. They ordered schools based on the percentage of their pupils who went to “university” and then to “third level”. This produces the absolutely shocking result that the schools in the richest areas where parents are more likely to be able to afford to send their kids to college are ranked best. Let’s ignore the governmental myth of free education. It’s extremely expensive to put any child through college regardless of the means tested grant. I’m not sure where they got their figures but movetoireland’s estimate of living expenses exceeding 7k per year in Dublin seems quite modest.
According to the survey the top secondary school in the country is the private and Jesuit-run Gonzaga, which has a fine reputation. I’m sure it’s deserved based on a long and proud tradition of learning but … children who are sent to Gonzaga are being sent there with the expectation of going to university. This is emphasised in an application process which I find a little idiosyncratic. Like many of the top 10 schools in the survey a student who is disinclined to continue to third level appears the exception rather than the rule. This is not intended as criticism of the top ranked schools nor am I suggesting this is a bad thing. I’m merely reflecting on the nature of a survey which, in my opinion, doesn’t effectively recognise schools which handle a broader demographic while still getting excellent results.