THE HIGH School in Rathgar, Co Dublin, is the top school in the State, according to one of the most comprehensive league tables published to date.
The table – compiled by a research team at the University of Ulster and the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick – is the first to take socio-economic background into account when assessing schools.
Until now, league tables – including The Irish Timesfeeder school list – have been compiled solely on the basis of the progression rates to third level. The social background of the school is not taken into account. The Irish Timeslist is dominated by fee-paying schools.
In the new list, researchers took The Irish Timesfeeder list and re-evaluated the performance of schools based on the social background of the school. Schools were given additional credits if there was high local unemployment, low levels of computer ownership, a high immigrant population and low levels of participation in third level. The size of a school was taken into account.
Prof Vani K Borooah, of the University of Ulster, who led the research, said: “We asked the question: if private schools were affected by the same circumstances as State schools, how would they be performing in terms of college progression?”
The new list features many of the schools which also feature prominently in The Irish Timeslist. Ten of the top 25 are fee-paying schools, and just one Gaelscoil – Coláiste Eoin in Stillorgan – makes the list.
But the list also features three schools from outside Dublin which have not featured prominently in The Irish Timeslist. They are St Flannan's in Ennis, Gorey Community School (the largest school in the State) and Castletroy College, Limerick.
The researchers say private schools and Gaelscoileanna generally reported much better results than State schools. However, they also noted that private schools and Gaelscoileanna are often relatively unaffected by many of the problems and socio-economic factors that State schools face.
School performance was assessed by the number of students who progressed to third level and by the types of institutions to which the students progressed. Three points were assigned a school for each student it sent to TCD and UCD, two points were given for students sent to other universities and one if a student progressed to a non-university institution.
The researchers noted how some fee-paying schools could be in an area of high unemployment but still draw their students from well-off areas. But the State school in the same area would tend to attract more pupils with learning and other needs. As a result, they would rank lower in league tables.
“We decided to equalise the circumstances,” Prof Borooah said. “Suppose the unemployment in an area had the same effect on the private school as it did on the State school. How would their performance measure up then?” Researchers believe the list gives a more accurate picture of how schools are actually performing.
Prof Borooah says “some schools can’t help but be successful, their circumstances are so good. Others will not perform no matter how great the effort because their circumstances are so bad.”
Schools in Dublin 6 and Dublin 6W dominated the new table, scoring 10 out of the top 20 places. Half of the top 10 schools in the list were fee-paying and just one in the top 10 was outside the capital.
Top 25 feeder schools in Ireland: by adjusted grade point average
1– The High And Diocesan School, Zion Rd, Rathgar, Dublin 6
2– St Andrew's College, Booterstown Ave, Blackrock, Co Dublin
3– Coláiste Fhlannain, Inis, Co An Chláir
4– St Louis High School, Rathmines, Dublin 6
5– Gonzaga College, Sandford Road, Dublin 6
6– St Mac Dara's Community College, Templeogue, Dublin 6 W
7– Alexandra College, Milltown, Dublin 6
8– Loreto College, St Stephens Green, Dublin 2
9– St Michael's College, Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4
10– Marian College, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
11– Dominican Convent, Muckross Park College, Donnybrook
12– Terenure College, Terenure, Dublin 6W
13– St Mary's College, Rathmines, Dublin 6
14– Our Lady's School, Templeogue Rd, Terenure, Dublin 6 W
15– Rathmines College, Town Hall, Rathmines, Dublin 6
16– Templeogue College, Templeogue, Dublin 6W
17– Wesley College, Ballinteer, Dublin 16
18– Gorey Community School, Gorey, Co Wexford
19– Christian Brothers College, Monkstown Park, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
20– Catholic University School, 89 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2
21– St Benildus College, Upper Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, Blackrock 22 – Castletroy Community College, Castletroy, Co Limerick
23– Newpark Comprehensive School, Blackrock, Co Dublin
24– St Conleth's College, Clyde Road, Dublin 4, Ballsbridge
25– Coláiste Eoin, Br Stigh Lorgan, Baile An Bhóthair, An Charaig Dhubh