Secondary-Level Education

Secondary-Level 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. These schools offer certificate courses regulated by the QQI and arrange for their students to participate in national exams. The Leaving Certificate Established is the mainstream secondary school curriculum in Ireland, designed for students planning to pursue higher education.

  • Leaving Certificate Established
  • Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme
  • Leaving Cert Applied


Irish Secondary Schools

According to Irish government statistics, there are 723 secondary schools in Ireland, of which 344 are Catholic schools, 22 are Church of Ireland schools, and the rest are schools belonging to different denominations. Secondary schools in Ireland are mainly privately owned institutions, and teachers are paid by the Irish government. Although there are many high-quality secondary schools in Ireland, public schools generally do not accept International students due to the protection of overseas students. Most schools that can accept International students and provide comprehensive education for international students are boarding schools. There are around 30 boarding schools in Ireland, including boys’ schools, girls’ schools, and co-educational schools. They are all prestigious traditional schools with strict admission criteria and excellent education. Secondary school enrollment is suitable for different grades, including first year, second year, fourth year (transition year), and fifth year. There are public exams at the end of the third year and sixth year, where the examination areas cover the materials taught in the final two years of the cycle, therefore these two years are not a suitable entry point.


Although Irish public schools generally do not accept overseas students, if there is a series of approved and guaranteed arrangements for guardians and host families, students can also apply and enrol in some local non-boarding schools. For more details, please approach us for inquiry.


Junior Cycle

Starting from 2022, all primary cycle subjects and short courses have been revised, and the old primary certificate has been completely abolished. The primary cycle focuses on eight core skills: Being Literate, Managing myself, Staying well, Managing information & Thinking, Being numerate, being creative, working with others and communicating.


The Junior Cycle curriculum combines full subjects and short courses. Students generally study around 9 to 10 subjects and are required to take the Junior Certificate public exam in their third year. The compulsory subjects include English, Irish (international students over 12 years old may be exempt), mathematics, a Foreign Language (Italian, Spanish, German, French etc.), religious education, and physical education. Depending on the school, additional core subjects like history or geography may be included. Moreover, students are also expected to participate in courses such as SPHE, CSPE, and physical education courses.


Short courses are also available to students that aim to enrich their educational experience. These short courses cover diverse areas such as performing arts, digital media culture, social, personal, and health education (SPHE), civic, social, and personal education (CSPE), etc. Unlike the core subjects, these short courses do not require exams.


 Junior Cycle Subject

Applied Technology

Business Studies








Home Economics

Jewish Studies


Modern Foreign Languages


Religious Education


Visual Art

Wood Technology


短期課程 Short Courses

CodingCivic, Social and Political Education (CSPE)Physical Education
Digital Media LiteracyA Personal Project: Caring for Animals (Level 2)Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE)
Artistic PerformanceCSI: Exploring Forensic Science (Level 2)Chinese Language and Culture
PhilosophyKeeping well, looking good, feeling greatAround the world in eighty days
Food glorious foodEnterprise in Animation (Level 2) 

Senior Cycle

The Senior Cycle is suitable for students aged 15 to 18. It includes an optional Transition Year, which follows immediately after the Junior Cycle. Transition year is intended to be a broad educational experience which assists in the transition from the school environment by encouraging creativity and responsibility for oneself. After the transition year, in the final two years of the Senior Cycle, students will participate in one of three courses, each of which will have a national examination: the traditional Leaving Certificate (LC), the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP), or the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA).


Agricultural Science

Ancient Greek

Applied Mathematics






Classical Studies

Computer Science

Construction Studies







Hebrew Studies


Home Economics





Mandarin Chinese



Physical Education Framework

Physical Education Specification


Physics and Chemistry


Politics and Society


Religious Education




Leaving Certificate Established

The Leaving Certificate Established is a comprehensive two-year programme designed to provide students with a well-rounded education and equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue their desired higher education and career paths. Typically, students take at least five subjects (often seven) for examination, with Irish being a mandatory subject. Subjects are generally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level, and Foundation Level is an option for Irish and Mathematics. 



Leaving Certificate Established offers a wide range of subjects, with syllabuses available for 36 different areas of study. Each of these belongs to a subject group as shown in the table below. Home Economics and Physics and Chemistry, belonging to two groups. The programme’s flexibility and diverse subject offerings allow students to tailor their studies to their interests and goals, preparing them for success in their future endeavors.

Languages group

Irish, English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Greek, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Classical Studies, Hebrew Studies, Lithuanian, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese

Science group

Applied Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, Physics and Chemistry

Business studies group

Accounting, Business, Economics

Applied science group

Agricultural Science, Construction Studies, Engineering, Home Economics, Physics and Chemistry, Design and Communication Graphics, Technology, Computer Science, Physical Education

Social studies group

Art, Geography, History, Home Economics, Music, Politics and Society, Religious Education

The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme

The LCVP( The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme) shares similarities with the Leaving Certificate Established programme, but with an additional emphasis on vocational content and technical subjects. Students enrolled in the LCVP undertake five Leaving Certificate subjects, including two vocational subjects. In addition to these subjects, they also study a modern European Language and three link modules focusing on Enterprise Education, Preparation for Work, and Work Experience.


The Leaving Certificate Applied 

The LCA (Leaving Certificate Applied) is a two-year program designed for students who prefer a practical and vocational-oriented curriculum. While certification in the LCA does not guarantee direct entry into third-level courses, students who successfully complete the programme are well-equipped to pursue a range of Post Leaving Certificate courses.


Entry requirementsAppropriate entry years
Secondary School
  • Current two years school report
  • Age
  • Online English test and Interview (If applicable)

Secondary 1, 2, 4 (Transition Year) and 5