Irish Independent 7/5/2013

An Foras Pátrúnachta / Press / Irish Independent 7/5/2013

Widening gap in two-tier school system is revealed

KATHERINE DONNELLY, IRISH INDEPENDENT – 07 MAY 2013

Pupils in fee-charging schools and those who receive an all-Irish education are most likely to go straight to college from school.

At the other extreme, research reveals that pupils attending schools in disadvantaged areas are most likely to drop out and if they do the Leaving Cert are least likely to go straight to a third-level institution.

A key finding – that girls are more likely than boys to leave school early – contradicts the long-held view that this was a predominantly male problem.

The reports confirm much of what is already known about how the system favours some students more than others – but the level of dropout by girls will trigger fresh worries about whether the education system is adequately meeting their needs.

Attempts to tackle early school leaving has traditionally focused on boys.

For the first time, the Department of Education has now tracked the progress of individual school-leavers from a single year, including both those who had done the Leaving Cert and those who dropped out.

The research was carried out on pupils who attended school in the 2009/2010 year, but were not enrolled the following year.

The department used PPS numbers to track the pupils and, in a ground-breaking exercise, cross-checked data in a range of government departments and agencies to establish where the school-leavers were a year later.

One study, ‘School Completers – What’s Next’ looked at what happened to the 54,824 Leaving Cert candidates in 2009/2010.

The other study, ‘Early School-Leavers – What’s Next’ looked at the destination of the 7,713 pupils (out of a total second-level enrolment that year of 257,060) who left school in 2009/2010 at any point before sixth year

Among the key findings were that 50pc of those who completed their Leaving Cert went straight into higher education. An additional 28pc went on to further education, such as a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course; training, such as a FAS course; or repeated the Leaving Cert.