Achieving in Learning

Below we present a range of data that provides "snap shots" of how children and young people in Ireland are doing in relation to National Outcome 2: Achieving full potential in all areas of learning and development.

Early Childhood Education

  • 27% of 3-year-olds were in centre-based childcare (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013a).
  • Children aged 3 living in homes where somebody read to them every day had a mean score on the ‘Naming Vocabulary’ test that was 17 points higher than those in homes where there was no regular reading (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013b).
  • 95% of children who had started school in September 2012 availed of the free pre-school year (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013c).
  • 39% of families in the lowest income quintile said they would not have been able to send their child to pre-school had it not been for the free pre-school year. This compares to 9% of families in the highest income quintile (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013c). 

What's happening in our schools?

  • In the 2014/2015 academic year, there were 3,277 primary schools [1] with 544,696 pupils (Department of Education and Skills, 2015a).
  • In the same year, there were 732 secondary schools [2] with 372,296 pupils (Department of Education and Skills, 2015a).
  • 90.6% of students who entered second level education in 2008 completed second-level education in 2013 or 2014. This Leaving Certificate retention rate represents a gradual improvement of 3.8% since 1997 (Department of Education and Skills, 2015b).  
  • Retention rates of students attending DEIS* second level schools continues to increase, with 82.1% of the 2008 cohort completing the Leaving Certificate. This is an increase from 68.2% for the 2001 cohort. (Department of Education and Skills, 2015b).
  • Just over fifty per cent (50%) of all school completers in 2009 enrolled in higher education in the year following their final year in school. 19.8 % of school completers in 2009 progressed to a Post Leaving Certificate course (Department of Education and Skills, 2013).
  • Female students display higher rates of further and higher education progression than males. The overall male non-progression rate is 19% compared to 13% for females. This compares to 17% and 13% in 2007/08 and shows a dis-improvement in male progression (Higher Education Authority, 2014).

Young adults and education

  • 63% of males aged 20 to 24 who live in rural areas have ceased full time education, compared to 53% of males in towns and cities (Central Statistics Office 2011).

Parents are important when it comes to educating children and young people

  • The higher the educational level of the child’s mother, the better children perform on both Vocabulary and Maths tests at age 9. Children of graduate mothers scored 63% in Maths and 78% in Vocabulary, compared to children whose mothers had lower secondary education or less, who scored 45% in Maths and 59% in Vocabulary (Growing Up in Ireland, 2009).
  • According to the Growing Up in Ireland study, there is a very positive relationship between a mother’s educational attainment and her expectation for her child’s educational progression. 55% of mothers of 9-year-olds who left school with a Junior Certificate or less expected their child to graduate with a Degree. 74% of mothers who left school with a Leaving Certificate expected their child to graduate with a Degree. 79% of degree-holding mothers expected their child to graduate with a Degree (Growing Up in Ireland 2009).

Do children and young people like school?

  • 79% of children aged 5 said good things about school more than once a week. 5% complained about school more than once a week (Growing Up in Ireland, 2013c).
  • Most 13-year-olds had positive attitudes to school: 29% liked it ‘very much’ and 32% liked it ‘quite a bit’ (Growing Up in Ireland, 2012).
  • Young people in their second year of post primary (secondary) education were less positive about school than those in first year of post primary: 25% of second-year students liked school ‘very much’ compared with 36% of first-year students (Growing Up in Ireland, 2012).
  • Teenage girls reported more positive interactions, and fewer negative interactions, with their teachers than boys. 30% of girls reported being praised by teachers ‘very often’ compared with 22% of boys. 64% of boys had been reprimanded for misbehaviour compared with 46% of girls (Growing Up in Ireland, 2012).
  • Young people with special educational needs (SEN) reported fewer positive interactions with their teachers than their peers. 20% reported being praised for their schoolwork very often compared with 27% of non-special educational needs students (Growing Up in Ireland 2012). 

Youth work – who benefits?

  • 43.3% of the total youth population aged between 10 and 24 were engaged in various youth work activities and programmes provided by voluntary youth organisations in 2011 (Indecon, Economic Value of Youth Work, 2012). 
*The Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) initiative is an action plan for educational inclusion. DEIS focuses on addressing the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities throughout their school careers.
[1] Primary Schools here stands for both primary schools and special schools.
[2] Secondary schools includes number of Post Leaving Certificate students. 

Click here for data sources and references.


Find out more:

How healthy are our children and young people?

Are children and young people in Ireland safe and secure?

What about poverty or employment?

What do we know about diversity and children and young people's sense of belonging within society


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