Stanley letter

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The Stanley letter is the title given to a letter written in 1831 by Edward Stanley (who later became The 14th Earl of Derby), then Chief Secretary for Ireland. This letter outlined his broad vision and a very practical proposal which helped the U.K. Government to establish legal basis for national schools in Ireland.[1] The letter was written two years after the government led by Field Marshal The 1st Duke of Wellington, in a very close alliance with the accomplished Irish patriot of constitutional revolution Daniel O'Connell, secured the passage and Royal Proclamation of the Catholic Emancipation bill. It was penned by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Edward Stanley (later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as The 14th Earl of Derby) and was addressed to The 3rd Duke of Leinster.

In line with the Letter's suggestions, a Board of Commission of National Education was established which disbursed funds for school building, the hiring of teachers and inspectors and provided grants for schools.[2] The Board tried to mix Catholic and Protestant students by favouring applications for 'mixed' schools.[2] However, in the years after the 1830s, different religious denominations begin to apply separately for control of schools[2] to the extent that in 2010, approximately 1% of schools (34 out of 3279) are not under the control of a religious organization, with the remaining 99% under religious control.

The Stanley letter remains today the legal basis for all national schools in the Republic of Ireland,[citation needed] the predominant form of primary education in the country.[2]


  1. ^ Irish Educational Documents, vol. 1, Áine Hyland, Kenneth Milne, Church of Ireland College of Education, pp.98-103
  2. ^ a b c d The Blackwell companion to modern Irish culture, W. J. McCormack, p.191