The Irish education system has been constantly evolving through the influences of philosophy,

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The Irish education system has been constantly evolving through the influences of philosophy, social changes and the history of the state. It is my opinion that the sociological changes have had a massive influence on the policies that have been implemented into the Irish education system. The policy that I will be focusing on is one of equal education opportunities for everyone with a focus on the sociological side to these changes. I will be looking at the policy of an equal education in terms of social class and gender.

In the early nineteenth century education was only open to the children of upper and middle class families, this was especially true for second and third level education. The reason for this was twofold, firstly
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There was a series of important policies that enhanced the ability to reach secondary education for all of society, for example, in 1959 Sean Lemass TD announced there would be improved facilities for secondary schools and in 1964 the Minster for Education Patrick Hillery TD announced that the government would begin opening state-funded comprehensive and community schools.

One of the key philosophies of education has been ingrained in our Constitution. Article 42 states that "The State shall provide for free primary education and shall endeavour to supplement and give reasonable aid to private and corporate educational initiative" (Bunreacht na hÉireann, 1937) . Although this is specific to primary education, as already mentioned, this was expanded into secondary education. Educational philosopher, Randall Curren describes education as a social right saying we must "assign society and its government an obligation to provide the child with an education" (Curren 2009).

The Free Education Scheme was a policy put forward by Lemass' government in 1967 in an attempt to deal with the educational inequalities in Ireland. Coolahan described this new policy as a "social escalator" which allowed low income families, that otherwise would have struggled to send their children to secondary school and escape the social class they found themselves in, to do so. Children's education was no longer governed by a
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