Labour Bill would end legacy of single-gender schools

22 February 2023
  • Bill would fully gender integrate schools within 10 years at primary level and 15 years at secondary level

Following research by the University of Limerick and the University of Murcia that there is no academic advantage to single-gender schools, Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on government to progress Labour’s Education (Admission to Schools Bill) 2020.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said Ireland stands alone with our gender segregation system that has no impact on learning outcomes.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“Schools are supposed to reflect the society that they serve yet there still remains a culture of single-gender schools throughout the country. Research published by UL and the University of Murcia shows that there is simply no academic reason to educate boys and girls separately. Labour is calling on government to progress our Bill that would bring our education system into the 21st century.

“The Department of Education has not given sanction to any new single gender school since 1998 – making mixed gender schools already the effective policy of the Department. Labour’s Bill would address the legacy of single gender schools and move to fully gender integrated schools within 10 years at primary level and 15 years at secondary level.

“The fact that so many of our schools are still separated by gender sends the wrong message to children at a young age about gender equality. At a local level, parents are questioning the status quo with most having a preference for mixed gender schools where possible.

“Ireland stands almost alone with our gender segregation system and we are out of kilter with the rest European world. While the conversation is rightly happening about the nature of gender equality in our society, education must be a feature of this.

“Bringing our education system into the 21st century would have broader benefits for students. For example, at a secondary school level, we all know that in single gender schools that subject choice can be extremely limited leading to restricted subject choice and gender stereotyping in too many of our second level schools. Segregation also makes it more challenging to break down barriers to gender equality when we separate boys and girls. It’s time for change.”

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