Further Education

According to the National Framework of Qualifications, Irish Education is classified into 10 levels while levels 3-6 are secondary education qualifications, including secondary schools, vocational schools, community colleges and comprehensive schools. Irish secondary education starts at 12 years old and students will attend 3 years of junior schools and 3 years of senior schools. 

Irish Secondary Schools

According to government statistics, there are 723 secondary schools in Ireland while 344 schools are catholic schools. In most cases, secondary schools are owned by private organizations.

Vocational schools and community colleges

Vocational schools and community colleges educate over 33% of all second level students, and are administered by statutory vocational education committees. They are also the main providers of adult education and community education courses. The main thrust of these schools was directed towards the development of manual skills and preparation of young people for trades. However, the full range of second-level courses is available.

Comprehensive schools

Comprehensive schools combine academic and vocational subjects in a wide curriculum. They are managed by a board of management and are financed entirely by the Department of Education and Science.

Community schools

Community schools are managed by Boards of Management entirely funded by the Department of Education and Science.  They offer a broad curriculum embracing both practical and academic subjects. They also provide facilities for adult education and community development projects.

Students may choose one of three Leaving Certificate Programmes:

The Leaving Certificate Programme 

Those intending to pursue higher education at a third-level institute normally takes this examination and access to third-level courses depends on results obtained. Students must take at least five subjects, including Irish (with the exception of those entering the system after 11 years of age).

The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP)

LCVP is similar to the programme detailed above, however there is an added vocational content and a concentration on technical subjects. Pupils taking the LCVP take five Leaving Certificate subjects (including two vocational subjects); a modern European Language and three link modules on Enterprise Education, Preparation for Work and Work Experience.

The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA)

The Leaving Certificate Applied is a two-year Leaving Certificate available to students who wish to follow a practical programme with a strong vocational emphasis.  While certification in the LCA does not qualify for direct entry to third-level courses, students who successfully complete the programme are able to proceed to many Post Leaving Certificate courses.