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Education for All?

The Legacy of Free Post-Primary Education in Ireland

Edited By Judith Harford

This book, commissioned to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the introduction of free post-primary education in Ireland, examines its origins, legacy and impact. The contributions are written by a range of scholars internationally recognized for their expertise in the fields of history of education, sociology of education, education policy and curriculum. Collectively, they theorize both the historical context for the introduction of free education as well as the impact of the initiative on the promotion of equality of opportunity. The book takes a long view, bringing new knowledge to the field by analysing previously unexamined primary sources, drawing on up-to-date research on educational disadvantage and assessing the changing emphases of Irish educational policy over time.
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10. Changing the Educational Landscape: Transforming Teacher Professionalism? (Ciaran Sugrue)


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10  Changing the Educational Landscape: Transforming Teacher Professionalism?


Radical reforms by their very nature ruffle feathers, particularly those soft, velvety, downy, comforting ones closest to the bosom of the status quo, the ‘establishment’ (Jones, 2015). Perhaps therefore, O’Connor’s observations regarding Donogh O’Malley, Minister for Education for a mere two years (1966–8), provide some insight into the persona of this post-Independence politician who went against the advice of more cautious minds and temperaments, including O’Connor himself: ‘He had a reputation as a “hell raiser”, as being impetuous, and as having concern and sympathy for the underdog’ (O’Connor, 1986, p. 139). The only straw in the wind as to what O’Malley might be like as minister was derived from a Dáil contribution some years earlier, when he expressed ‘his support for free universal education’ while otherwise senior civil servants ‘had no idea where his interests lay’ at the time of his appointment (O’Connor, 1986, p. 139).

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