TCS - the early years

TCS - the early years - Page 2

In October 1970 the Irish Times published a document that outlined the basic principles of the Community School. This was a “leaked “document, which was to be the blueprint for the provision of post primary education for many years to come. These schools would offer, a comprehensive curriculum, would be co-educational, non selective and would make their facilities available to the local community outside of school hours. These schools would bring together the Vocational and Secondary systems under one roof and would remove duplication of buildings, teachers and equipment.

The Minister for Education Mr. Padraig Faulkner was obliged to make a series of statements to the Dail further outlining the plans for these schools. Some years ago I asked him if the leak caused him some difficulty. He agreed that it did some damage initially, but, because he was confidant that the basic idea was good, he went on to implement the policy. What followed was unprecedented in my experience. The volume of objections, accusations, rumours, public meetings, protest marches makes interesting reading today. Throughout the sixties there had been a number of important initiatives which gave rise to a certain amount of public discussion and even controversy; Comprehensive schools 1963; O’Malley free education 1966; O! Connor article in Studies; 1968, Intermediate and Leaving Certificates extended to Vocational schools 1969.

All of these plans were fuelled by the O.E.C.D. report Investment in Education, and it should have been clear to all of us in education at that time that the State would have to become more and more involved in the direct provision of Post Primary education .I have used the first person in this because I was actively involved in a number of organisations during these years, and my implied criticism is made with that wonderful gift of hindsight. Indeed the Minister Mr. Colley in January 1996 in a letter to the Authorities of Secondary and Vocational schools said " Let me add that I do not anticipate that the number of public comprehensive schools will be very great “ A mere 4 years down the line the plans had changed dramatically.