Secondary-Level Education

Secondary-Level Education

Secondary-level education in Ireland comprises secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools. All of these schools provide the Certificate courses prescribed by the Department of Education and Skills, and enter their students for the same national examinations.


Secondary Schools

Secondary schools, which educate approximately 54% of second level students, are privately owned. The cost of teachers’ salaries is, in the main, met by the State. Over thirty Irish secondary schools provide boarding facilities and many of these have a strong tradition of enrolling students from abroad.


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.


Junior Cycle

Second level education in Ireland generally starts at the age of twelve and consists of a three-year Junior cycle followed by a two or three year senior cycle. The junior Cycle covers the first three years of the post-primary education, it focuses on the eight key skills: Being Literate, Managing myself, Staying well, Managing information & Thinking, Being numerate, being creative, working with others and communicating.

The Junior cycle comprises a range of subjects and short courses. Students normally take 9 -10 subjects. However, not all subjects are offered in every school. All students sit the Junior Certificate Examination at the end of junior cycle in post-primary schools. The core subjects are Irish (International students who aged 12 are exempt from studying Irish ), English, Mathematics and a Foreign Language ( Italian, Spanish, German, French etc.) There may be other compulsory subjects, depending on the type of school. The following table are the junior cycle subject and short courses:

 Junior Cycle Subject

Applied TechnologyBusiness StudiesClassics
EngineeringEnglish Gaeilge
Home EconomicsJewish StudiesMathematics
Modern Foreign LanguagesMusicReligious Education
ScienceVisual ArtWood Technology
The Junior Certificate School Programme  

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 offers a “Transition Year” which is an optional one-year programme that forms the first year of a three year 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.  Students may choose one of three Leaving Certificate Programmes including The Leaving Certificate Established, The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) or The Leaving Certificaye Applied (LCA).

Senior Cycle Subjects

Applied Technology

Business Studie








Home Economics

Jewish Studies


Modern Foreign Languages


Physical Education


Visual Art

Wood Technology

Short Courses

A Personal Project: Caring for Animals (Level 2)

Around the world in eighty days

Artistic Performance

Chinese Language and Culture


CSI: Exploring forensic Science (Level 2)


Digital Media Literacy

Enterprise in Animation (Level 2)

Food glorious food

History (Level 2)

Keeping well, looking good, feeling great


Physical Education




Leaving Certificate Established

The Leaving Certificate (Established) is a two-year programme that aims to provide learners with a broad, balanced education while also offering them a chance to specialize towards particular higher education and career options.

In general, students take five or more subjects (usually seven) for examination, one of which must be Irish. Subjects are normally studied at either Ordinary or Higher Level. Two subjects, Irish and Mathematics, can be studied at Foundation Level.

Syllabuses are available in 36 subjects. Each of these belongs to a subject group as shown in the table below. Two subjects, Home Economics and Physics and Chemistry, belong to two groups.


Languages group

English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Latin, Greek, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Classical Studies, Hebrew Studies

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 (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.

Source from :,


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

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

Click here to learn more about the Transition Year (link up to Transition Year page)