Labour Proposes Ending Single-Sex Schooling Within 15 Years

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Labour is working on a bill that proposes ending single-sex schooling within the next 15 years.

The last single-sex school to be sanctioned was in 1998, leading Labour to claim it is already "de facto" policy.

A third of Irish secondary schools are single-sex, one of the highest rates outside the Arab world. 17% of Irish primary pupils attend single-sex schools.

"Our proposal and our bill is that over 10 years every primary school should be co-educational and after 15 years that should happen at second-level," said Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who was once the principal of an all-girls primary school. "We appreciate the second level conversation is more complex, there are different dynamics at play there, but that’s what we’re trying to achieve. I think it will start the conversation rolling and the Department of Education has to be a persuader of school communities to amalgamate, or more simply to just accept both genders from a given September."

Ó Ríordáin dismissed claims that girls perform better academically in single-sex schools as having been "debunked," and said the claim "doesn’t stand up to modern analysis."

"We don’t have single-sex creches, we don’t have single-sex universities," Ó Ríordáin argued. "I think if we’re trying to tackle some of the issues in our society that affect women quite profoundly, we are probably going to be more successful doing that in the multi gendered scenario."

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