Secondary schools in Dublin


Irish children attend secondary school in Ireland from the age of 12 to either 17 or 18, although at 16 they are no longer legally obliged to attend. Some schools offer a ‘Transition Year’, which extends the usual five-year secondary school education to six years.

In general, the Irish system is of high quality, and although it tends to have an academic focus, the vocational sector is developing.

Exams in secondary school

Students take two state exams: the Junior Certificate at the end of the third year, and the Leaving Certificate at the end of the final year.

There are 21 Junior Certificate subjects on offer in Ireland, but availability varies from school to school. Irish, English and Maths, however, are compulsory.

Leaving Certificate subjects cover a wider range, again depending on the school. As with the Junior Certificate, Irish, English and Maths are compulsory. The remaining four or five subjects to be taken by the learner are selected from the subject range that the school has on offer. Subjects are grouped by discipline: there is a languages group, a science group, a business study group, an applied science group and a social studies group.

Class sizes in secondary schools

The Department of Education guidelines limit general class sizes to 30 and practical classes to 24, but teachers’ unions report this is often exceeded in more popular subjects. It is an ongoing subject of contention between teachers’ unions and the department in relation to funding and building.

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