Announcement: Symposium: Publicness of Education: The Past, Present, and Future of an Educational Ideal

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 - 12:00

We're happy to announce a one-day symposium organised by the Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy, Maynooth University

Public education as education funded by public means, accountable to the public, and accessible to everyone, is a key institution of modern democracies. On the one hand, public education is the expression of the democratic values of liberty, equality, and solidarity. On the other hand, public education plays a key role in promoting and sustaining these values.

Today there are signs that this configuration of public education is in decline and that other priorities have taken over. The rise of school choice, privatisation and commercialisation has eroded the democratic governance of public education and has led to new patterns of educational segregation and inequality. New public management has caused a shift from democratic to technocratic forms of accountability, with a strong focus on meeting the needs of ‘customers’ rather than being oriented towards the common good. It has thus also challenged the role of the state as a key actor in serving and securing the common good.

The question this raises is what the future for public education, in schools, colleges and universities, may look like. But rather than only focusing on the future, there is also the question of the past: How ‘public’ has education been so far? And there is the question of the present: How ‘public’ is education today? What are the pressures? And where are the possibilities?

The Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy at Maynooth University is organising a one-day seminar to reflect on these issues, with a focus on the state of public education and the publicness of education in Ireland.

Symposium Details:
·       Date: 9th May
·       Time: 08:30 – 17:00
·       Location: Renehan Hall, St Patrick’s College, South Campus, Maynooth University 

Keynote and Panellists:

Opening Address: Maynooth University President, Eeva Leinonen

Scene-setting Talk: Carl-Anders Säfström, Director of the Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy, Maynooth University; Gert Biesta, Professor of Public Education at the Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy, Maynooth University

Keynote Address: Karl Kitching, Professor of Public Education and Director of Research in the School of Education, University of Birmingham

Panel Discussions: Dearbhil Lawless – AONTAS, Sharon Todd MU, Joe Oyler MU,, and Simon Lewis, Principal and host of “If I were the Minister for Education” Podcast, 

Secure Your Spot: Please indicate your interest in attending by registering via our Eventbrite page
We hope you'll join us for this discussion on public education! Refreshments and lunch will be provided.
If you have any questions, please reply to this email, or email:;