State schools forge ahead

Figures published today show that Irish schools perform well when it comes to helping their pupils progress to third level, but some statistics hide surprising facts

St Jarlath’s College in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, tops the non-feepaying schools as well as the Connacht list, with a progression rate of 135 per cent.

St Jarlath’s College in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, tops the non-feepaying schools as well as the Connacht list, with a progression rate of 135 per cent.


The Irish Times Feeder Schools list published today shows the strong performance of Irish schools when it comes to college progression. Non-fee-paying schools dominate the top progression (to third-level) rates, although fee-paying schools also make a significant impact.

However, the progression information is not as simple as it seems: the data for each school not only includes the class of 2013, but also students from previous years who sat the Leaving Cert and went on to accept a college place in 2013.

One in seven post-primary schools in Ireland has a third-level progression rate of 100 per cent or more when measured as a percentage of last year’s Leaving Cert class. This list of schools which appear to be hugely successful in placing their students in universities and institutes of technology is dominated by non-fee-paying schools, although 26 fee-paying schools also had 100 per cent progression.

The reason why some schools have progression rates of over 100 per cent is because we can only access figures that include both students who sat the Leaving Cert in 2013 and those who did so in previous years.

In total 97 schools appear to have a progression rate of 100 per cent or more. Of these schools, non-fee-paying schools make up the majority, accounting for 70 of the total.

Some 26 of the schools which exceeded the 100 per cent progression rate were fee-paying schools, while just one grind school, Ashfield College in Templeogue, made it into the list, entering in first place with 41 former students going to college even though only 24 sat the Leaving Cert in Ashfield this year.

About a third of the schools with a progression rate of 100 per cent or more are in the Dublin area. Most of these are fee-paying, in South Dublin, where such schools predominate. The top non-fee-paying school in Dublin is Ardscoil Rís in Dublin 9, with 109 per cent progression.

Elsewhere around the country, the story is more mixed. Eleven schools in the Leinster area have a progression rate of 100 per cent or over and three of those top 11 are fee-paying schools.

In Connacht, on the other hand, 20 schools, all non-fee-paying, have a 100 per cent progression rate.

St Jarlath’s College in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, tops the non-feepaying schools as well as the Connacht list, with a progression rate of 135 per cent.

Other Connacht schools with 100 per cent or more progression include: St Louis Community School in Kiltimagh (125 per cent); Scoil Mhuire Strokestown, Co Roscommon (117 per cent). The top five non-fee-paying schools are in Connacht and include the Presentation College in Galway, with a progression rate of 123 per cent, and St Joseph’s College Garbally in Ballinasloe, with 117 per cent.

Other non-fee-paying schools riding high in the lists include the Vocational School in Tralee, with 118 per cent, and Colaiste an Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown, Co Cork with 112 per cent.

Indeed, Munster has the largest tally of schools – 31 have a progression rate of 100 per cent or over. Two fee-paying schools – Glenstal Abbey and Newtown School in Waterford – topped that list with progression of 133 and 119 per cent respectively.

The three counties of Ulster have four schools in the top list: St Columba’s College in Glenties, Co Donegal (117 per cent); Scoil Phobal, Chloigh Cheannfhaola, Co Donegal (108 per cent); and Clochar Naomh Lughaidh, Monaghan (101 per cent).

Almost half of the 53 fee-paying schools in the country have more students registered in first year in college this year than sat the Leaving Cert in 2013.

In south Dublin, 13 out of the 17 schools achieving a progression rate of 100 per cent or more are fee-paying schools. These include St Mary’s College Rathmines with a progression rate of 124 per cent and St Michael’s College in Dublin 4 with a rate of 122 per cent.

The remaining four south Dublin schools consist of one grind school, and the non-fee-paying schools Templeogue College, the Dominican College, Muckross Park and De la Salle College in Churchtown, which have progression rates of 101, 102 and 103 per cent respectively.

It is clear from these lists that many more students from schools in prosperous areas, fee-paying private schools and Gaelscoileanna enter the third-level system through the CAO application process each year than those from schools in more disadvantaged areas.

They also tell us that the proximity of a third-level institute, either an IT or university, increases the participation rate in a geographic region.

The figures today do not include the 2,000 or so students who go to college in Britain and Northern Ireland, nor do they include a growing number of students who enter universities in mainland Europe, taking courses taught exclusively through English.

In addition to this, about 15,000 students who enter post-Leaving Cert courses each year are not accounted for in this supplement.

The phenomenon where schools appear to send more than 100 per cent of their students to third level is an issue that arises because of the nature of the information available when compiling the Feeder Schools lists.

Here we account for 88 per cent of students who registered in a non-fee-paying third-level college. The remaining 12 per cent of students are registered at one of the 15 private fee-paying colleges. 105 students from the Republic register in Queens and the University of Ulster.

We have no way of distinguishing the entrants who sat the Leaving Cert in 2013 from those who sat the Leaving Cert in other years. (See full explanation on page 2 and page 9.)

l The data provided by IT Sligo does not identify the original school of all students who began full-time first-year undergraduate studies at that institution in 2013.

The Irish Times is concerned that a number of schools – particularly those in Sligo and Leitrim, as well as other parts of Connaught and Ulster – may be marginally affected by the inadequacy of the data provided by IT Sligo, and their full and accurate progression rate may not be recorded in all cases.

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