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Pay Now or Pay Later? Investing in Education Emer Smyth and Selina Mc. Coy TUI National Symposium ‘Investing in Education’ 17 October 2009
Outline of presentation 1. Educational expenditure 2. Overview of educational inequality 3. 4. 5. Consequences and costs of early school leaving Educational policy in relation to disadvantage Current policy climate
Educational expenditure n n n Expenditure on education increased over the period 1992 -2007 but: More is spent per capita on third-level than on earlier stages Ireland still falls behind average spending levels in EU 19 and OECD countries
Educational inequality in Ireland n n Unequal outcomes at every stage of the educational career A child’s social background matters to: Ø Their reading and mathematics performance at primary level Ø The grades they achieve in the JC exam Ø Whether they stay on in school for the LC Ø The grades they achieve in the LC Ø Whether they go on to third-level education
Primary reading scores and mother’s education Source: Educational Research Centre, 2005.
Leaving Certificate completion by social class Source: School Leavers’ Survey.
Consequences of early leaving n n Early school leaving has striking effects on a range of adult outcomes Early leavers are more likely to be unemployed and, if unemployed, to be employed for a longer period
Unemployment rate (2008) Source: Quarterly National Household Survey.
Unemployment rate 15 -64 year olds (April-June 2009) Source: Quarterly National Household Survey.
Employment n n Early leavers are more likely to work in less skilled jobs They receive lower average pay, resulting in a significant life-time gap in earnings
Lone motherhood Source: Quarterly National Household Survey.
Health outcomes n n Early leavers are more likely be in poor/fair rather than good health Higher rates of anxiety/depression Higher rates of smoking and heavy drinking Greater dependency on medical card
Broader social outcomes n n n Vast majority of those in prison are early leavers In 2002, committal rate of 46. 6 per 1, 000 early leavers v. 1. 6 for LC+ Consequences for educational outcomes among the next generation
Costs for society of early leaving n n Welfare payments for unemployed and lone parents Income tax foregone for those not in employment Health: Utilisation of health services Crime: Cost of imprisonment (€ 92, 717 p. a. in 2008)
Educational policy n n Focus on targeted provision for schools with a concentration of children from disadvantaged backgrounds (DEIS) New ESRI evidence shows that DEIS schools do indeed have a high concentration of disadvantaged students
Students with difficulties (>25%): Primary schools Source: ESRI Survey of Diversity.
Students with difficulties (>25%): Second-level schools Source: ESRI Survey of Diversity.
Profile of DEIS schools n n Less likely to be over-subscribed Higher concentration of newcomer (immigrant) and Traveller students Second-level: higher % of students with learning or physical disabilities School climate: behaviour and engagement of students; involvement of parents
But not all disadvantaged children are in DEIS (second-level) schools Source: School Leavers’ Survey.
Perception of DEIS scheme DEIS principals broadly positive about the scheme and School Completion Programme Ø Class size reductions Ø Resources and planning for literacy/numeracy Ø Provision of meals within school Ø Capacity to promote parental involvement § But issues raised by principals and stakeholders in relation to policy more generally n
Issues for policy: Early intervention n Gap on entry to school “Children start off behind others, way behind the starting line, children who present at school significantly behind their peers … Basically they’re playing catch-up from then on. ” n n Can DEIS schools ‘close this gap’? Importance of preschool education (potential of the new ECCE scheme)
Issues for policy: Targeting § § Targeting disadvantaged schools alone is not enough – not all disadvantaged children are in DEIS schools Reported difficulty among principals in providing information for targeting “There is anecdotal evidence that. . . the idea is you talk up your school, or talk down your school. If you’re being truly honest about your school, that can put you at a disadvantage … Schools can lose out if you’re being too honest. ”
Issues for Policy: Fragmentation n Schools do not exist in isolation – need for joined-up policy across education, health and welfare services “You can’t treat the child in isolation. …We would be able to pinpoint at four years of age children who are at risk for a number of reasons, it could be speech and language, it could be more emotional, or lack of emotional, development. And I don’t think as a society that we are providing those services. … We’re being reactive rather than proactive. ”
Issues for Policy: What Can Schools Do? Important to note that schools can make a difference to educational retention: 1. Positive school climate 2. Positive disciplinary climate 3. More active learning approaches 4. Mixed ability grouping
Changes post-Budget 2008 n n Huge potential of new preschool scheme ‘Ring-fencing’ of DEIS schools But potential impact of some measures on DEIS schools Likely impact on disadvantaged children in non-DEIS schools: book grants; grants for specific groups; programme grants; SEN students
Recent changes: On the ground ”I think it’s the start of chipping away and dismantling a lot of the foundations for the weaker students in the system. ” “School has to be more than books, school has to be an experience for children and the sports and the games and the extra-curricular – that’s what has made our education system good. There was an emotional reaction almost to the Budget, they could see all of this being pulled … All of that qualitative enrichment of the curriculum, these things aren’t trips, they are enrichment of the curriculum. They are going and they are gone. ”
The current climate n n Recession will impact more on disadvantaged families Mc. Carthy report raises likelihood of further cuts in education spending Suggested measures will impact on disadvantaged groups – student/teacher ratios, specialist staff, capitation fees But no cost-benefit analysis of these measures even though educational investment is found to have long-term benefits
Final words: Pay now or pay later? “Educational equity is a moral imperative for a society in which education is a crucial determinant of life chances. ” (Henry Levin, US, 2009) “We’re losing huge potential here. ” (DEIS school principal, 2009)
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