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Apprenticeships and post-grad studies are on the rise according to a new education report

The number of teachers at primary and post-primary level went up from 61,942 in 2016 to 69,343 in 2020.

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THE PERIOD BETWEEN 2016 and 2020 saw a significant increase in people entering apprenticeships, postgraduate studies and studying more than two foreign languages in secondary school, according to a new Education Indicators for Ireland 2021 report.

The number of people taking part in apprenticeships increased from 10,445 in 2016 to 19,630 in 2020, while the total number of post-graduate researchers rose from 9,802 to 11,199, with women accounting for about half of those. 

At primary and post-primary school level, the retention rate of students up to the leaving certificate in DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) schools went from 83.8% for the 2013 cohort to 84.8% for those enrolling in 2014. 

Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said that a key priority is “removing barriers to third-level education”, and that the report “confirms transition rates rose to 66.1% in 2020, up from 62.1% in 2019.” He added: “Among DEIS schools the rate was 46.7%, which is an improvement but leaves us with much more work to do throughout 2022.”

The report offers an important opportunity to assess achievements in the education sector, and also to identify what more needs to be done to create a world-class education landscape in Ireland, Harris said. 

He added that the government plans to register 10,000 new apprenticeships annually by 2025, and that “as of last week, we achieved over 8,000 registrations so far this year, so the message is clearly getting out there that there are multiple educational pathways available”.

According to the report, there has also been a significant bump in students with special needs entering mainstream primary schools in recent years — going from 4,836 in 2016 to 7,510 in 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of special needs assistants (SNAs) in schools has also risen — from 12,634 in 2016 to 17,713 in 2020.

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Overall, the number of teachers at primary and post-primary level went up from 61,942 in 2016 to 69,343 in 2020, while the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools decreased from 15.7 to 14.5 since 2016. 

Since 2016, more and more schools are offering at least two foreign languages — as is the percentage of students taking another language other than French in the leaving certificate.

Education Minister Norma Foley said, “It is heartening to see that a number of key indicators are continuing to trend in a positive direction, particularly the pupil-teacher ratio and the retention rates for DEIS students.”

She added: “We will continue to work to further address these key areas and ensure that there is progress right across the education sector.”

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