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Leaving Cert

More students finishing secondary education than ever before

New report from Department of Education shows that more young men in particular are staying on to do Leaving Cert.

MORE YOUNG MEN than ever are staying on in secondary school to finish their Leaving Certificate exams.

A report published by the Department of Education, Retention Rates of Pupils in Second-Level Schools, tracks the education of those students who entered secondary school in the years between 1991 and 2004 and who finished their second-level schooling by 2010.

It found that while there is a gender gap in how many girls versus boys complete the Leaving Cert (82.4 per cent of males who started in 2004 completed the senior cycle, but 86.5 per cent of females did), that gap was “far lower than in previous years”.

In fact, the retention rate of male students to the point of the Leaving Cert was 11.7 per cent up on eight years previously. Overall, the percentage of students who sit the Leaving Cert has risen by more than 6 per cent to 87.7 per cent in those eight years.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said:

I am particularly pleased to see the high number of young men who are now completing their Leaving Cert exams. This is a very welcome development. It is also heartening to see the average Leaving Certificate retention rate in DEIS* schools increased by 5 percentage points from 68.2 per cent to 73.2 per cent for students who entered second level in 2001 to 2004.

(*DEIS stands for Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools which is a standardised system run by the Department of Education and Skills to identify and review levels of disadvantage in schools.)

Other facts revealed by the report include:

  • Retention rates to Leaving Cert in cities tend to be lower than in other areas. Limerick city (77.6 per cent), Dublin city (80.1 per cent) and Cork city (80.6 per cent) had the lowest retention rates to Leaving Cert for those students who started secondary school in 2004.
  • County Longford schools had the highest retention rate at 89.4 per cent, followed by Mayo at 88.6 per cent.
  • The average Leaving Cert retention rate in DEIS schools increased by 5 per cent from 68.2 per cent to 73.2 per cent from 2001 to 2004; the retention rate in non-DEIS schools increased from 85 per cent to 87.4 per cent.
  • The number of early school leavers decreased from 13 per cent in 2004 to 10 per cent in 2010. These take into account those students who left but didn’t go on to an apprenticeship or other alternative education.
  • Most of the students who do leave school early do so after they have already participated in at least part of the senior cycle – 94.3 per cent of students who started secondary school in 2004 go on to Transition Year or the first year of the Leaving Cert cycle. By the second year of the senior cycle (or the year after Transition Year), that number has gone down to 87.8 per cent. An overall 87.8 per cent of those who started secondary in 2004 go on to sit the Leaving Cert.
  • The report notes that some of the school leavers, other than those termed ‘early school leavers’, also includes the small number who go to ‘private’ institutions to complete their senior cycle or, to a limited extent, emigrate or die.

This graph shows the rise in numbers who stay on in secondary school to do their Leaving Cert:

For the full report on retention rates at second-level education, click here>

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