A snapshot of primary education in 2017

Facts from new database of pupils attending national schools

This is a first glimpse of findings from a new primary school online database, which will track pupils individually through the education system from this year onwards. It contains new information on the ethnic/cultural backgrounds of pupils, as well as religion and mother tongue.

558,420: Number of pupils in primary education

Mother tongue
47,973: Number of pupils who said English or Irish was not their mother tongue. Of these, just over a third were Irish nationals, followed by Polish, Lithuanian and Romanian nationals.

Religious ethos
90 per cent: Proportion of students enrolled in schools with a Catholic ethos, followed by multidenominational (5 per cent) and Church of Ireland (3 per cent).


89 per cent: Proportion of students in mainstream primary who are Irish, followed by EU accession states or EU-13 (5 per cent), Asian (2 per cent) and African (1 per cent).

8,208: Number of pupils who were members of the Traveller community, or 1.5 per cent of enrolments of all mainstream pupils.

Starting age
73 per cent: Proportion of junior infants aged five years or older as of January 1st, 2017, up from 52 per cent on the same date in 2000.

Source: Primary Online Database, Department of Education

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent