Educational Disadvantage

Education is a right, not a privilege. It is a right that can make all the difference to a child. Education can give children the best start possible in life and set them on a path to opportunity and hope for a bright future.

Education is intrinsic to ensuring that children and young people develop intellectually and socially. It is also a powerful predictor of adult life chances. And yet inequality in education means that some children in Ireland do not reach their potential because their opportunities are limited before they begin. Without proper supports, many children living with disadvantage simply don’t have the resources they need to get an adequate education. Giving these children the tools they need to get their education is key to breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty and redressing inequalities in Irish society. All children deserve to be supported fully to get the most from their education.

School Costs Survey 2015

Barnardos’ School Costs Survey, now in its 10th year, surveyed over 1,400 parents during Summer 2015 to assess the real cost of getting their children ready to go back to school. Yet again the survey shows that it is a hugely stressful time for many parents as they worry about how to pay for all that is required.

Barnardos Free Education Campaign

Barnardos is calling on the Government to deliver free primary education for all children.

We have calculated it would cost just €103.2m to guarantee free access to education for all primary school children. This is only an extra cost-per-pupil of just €185.

This investment would fulfil the Government’s Constitutional obligation to deliver free education for all primary school children and would cover:

  • all school books;
  • school transport;
  • classroom resources

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Schools Digital Survey 2015

Barnardos surveyed parents on the use of digital devices in their children's schools, and found that a lack of standardised investment and planning in relation to the use of digital technology in schools is causing a financial headache for parents and adversely affecting disadvantaged children.

Key Statistics

• Children overall are performing better in maths, reading and science skills since 2009 according to latest PISA study. However, those students attending DEIS schools continue to perform significantly less well than students in other schools on all domains, and the difference is almost 60 points for print mathematics.

• The latest DEIS reports show that although children in these schools do perform less than average their performances in reading and maths are improving with the greatest gains made in the younger classes. It is worrying that one in five 6th class pupils in DEIS primary schools continue to have low levels of reading, more than double the normal average. (DEIS, 2013)

• Students in Ireland who never attended preschool perform significantly less well than students who have attended for a year or less. (PISA 2013)

• Rates of absenteeism are dropping but 11% of primary school pupils and 16% of secondary school students were absent 20 or more days in the school year. Rates for nonattendance are much higher in urban areas than rural areas. In secondary schools all forms of absenteeism were higher in disadvantaged schools. (NEWB, 2013)



Written Out, Written Off 2009
This campaign was launched at a time of great uncertainty and upheaval in the education system. Severe cuts to the education budget had left many children and parents concerned about the future of education in Ireland.  Written Out, Written Off set out to evidence the serious gaps in the education system and the solutions needed to fill the gaps for those children living in disadvantage.

Download a copy of the Written Out, Written Off report here.
Download a copy of the ESRI research paper here.

Make the Grade Campaign

Download a copy of Make the Grade 2006 report here)



How Money is Spent