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ED4010 History of Education

by Rebecca Claire Sweeney


ED4010 History of Education
Question 1
by Rebecca Sweeney
The origins of the
Irish National School System and
how it developed over time
The Development of the Irish National School System (1831-2000)
The developments and enhancements of the Irish
National School System (INSS) began in the early 1830’s when it was established, and continue to commence today, into the 21st century.

Walsh (2016), gives us a vivid insight into five main developmental eras including;
1. it’s establishment (1831-72),
2. the era of Payment by results (1872-1900),
3. a revised programme of instruction (1900-22),
4. the curricula development following independence (1922-71), and
5. the development of the Primary School Curriculum (1972-99).’ (Walsh, 2016, p.7-8).

According to Walsh (2016), the rationale behind
the establishment of the INSS solely falls upon political factors.
The objective of the system was to socialize and reinforce Ireland's ties to the Empire. However, other factors have influenced changes since.
First Attempts...
>The first attempt of forming a system, funded by a large government grant in 1811 was ‘The Kildare Place Society(KPS).

>Influenced by the Quakers, and serving non-denominational, non-proselytizing education, it’s aim was ensuring groups of avowed Christians had the same educational benefits, without compromising the various religions, and so, they didn’t expand on readings of bible passages or religious instruction.

>In 1818, Catholic layman; Daniel O’ Connell, and Catholic bishops argued against reading the Bible aloud in class without note or criticism (Fleming & Harford, 2015). After his proposal to change this was denied, he argued for a multi-denominational program, receiving religious
education separate from school. O'Connell and Richard Lalor Shiel established the Catholic Association in 1823 to advocate for Catholic emancipation and
educational reform (Fleming & Harford, 2015).

>When Catholic emancipation was ultimately approved in 1829, O'Connell was able to run for parliament. In 1830, Edward Stanley (Whig government) was appointed ‘Chief
secretary with a duty of introducing education proposals in Ireland in 1831.

>The ‘Stanley Letter’ formed the legal basis for the INSS, proposing religious instruction outside of hours, in a multi-denominational system (Fleming & Harford, 2015), which commenced from 1831.
The Establishment (1831-72)
During the Establishment period, graded readers, levelled 1-6 were introduced.
There was a great decline of the Irish language from the 1830’s as parents wanted their children to learn English and be considered of ‘high social status’ and ‘economic success’.

The Board of Commissions wanted all Catholic denominations of teachers educated together but wished for genders to be educated separately.
Catholic Hierarchy then banned Catholic student teachers from attending these colleges.

Other changes involved; moving from a ‘Monitorol system; which involved the main teacher of a class overseeing the work of a monitor, who was responsible for a draft of pupils within the class in the early 19th century to a ‘Simultaneous method', in 1840 whereby the teacher instructed the entire class, and monitors acted as assistants (Walsh, 2016).
The Era of Payment by Results (1872-1900)
The era of Payment by results (1872-1900) entailed
Irish National teachers receiving a basic, although insufficient income, which was augmented by payments given on a pupil-result basis. It originated as a
result of the ‘Powis Commission’ of enquiry in 1870, and it’s findings based on limited educational progress for many pupils in relation to reading book levels and general educational proficiency (Walsh, 2016).
This encouraged the revision of curriculum, instruction and range of subjects being taught.

Although the scheme failed to consider ‘differentiation’, and encouraged rote learning, possibly creating a pressurising learning environment, it increased attendance levels, literacy levels, and pupils entering the senior cycle.