Highest ever number of secondary students staying on for Leaving Cert


The number of students staying on in school to complete the Leaving Cert exam is at its highest rate to date.

However, some 20 per cent of students in Deis or disadvantaged schools are still leaving school before the Leaving Cert exam, according to a new Department of Education report.

Overall, the percentage of students who sit the Leaving Cert has risen by 9 per cent over the past decade to 90 per cent. In all, 89 per cent of males are staying on to sit their Leaving Cert exam.

A small gap remains between the sexes, with 92 per cent of females completing second level. The gap is narrowing, though, standing at three percentage points compared with nine percentage points five years ago.

While the percentage of those dropping out from Deis schools remains high, there has also been some improvement in the overall picture. For those who entered second level between 2001 and 2006, the average Leaving Certificate retention rate has increased from 68 to 80 per cent .

The overall increase was not unexpected, given the lack of job opportunities for teenagers without a low level of formal qualifications.

The report also shows that Ireland also has one of the highest proportions of persons aged 20-24 with at least a higher secondary education in the EU (joint seventh of 27 countries in 2011).

Ireland’s rate of 87 per cent is significantly above the EU average of 80 per cent.

The report, published on the Department of Education’s website, tracks the retention rates of pupils who entered the first year of the junior cycle in 2005 and 2006.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said: “I am extremely heartened to see the significant increase in the number of young men staying on to complete the senior cycle.

“The contraction in the labour market has meant that for many young people, there are more reasons to stay on in education, but it is also important to recognise measures taken by this department,” Mr Quinn added.

“The extra resources provided to the 200 second-level schools under Deis and programmes like the school completion programme have certainly also played their part.”

In terms of geographical spread, Co Kilkenny has the highest retention rate in the state, at 94 per cent.