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Parenting & Education in Ireland

What do school league tables tell us?


Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 16/07/2013. What do school league tables tell us?Tags: Secondary School News

League tables for schools in Ireland are published by the Sunday Times and the Irish Times and are designed to offer information that will help parents and young people make choices about schooling.

These rundowns can be particularly useful, as they tell parents about progression rates to college from individual schools - information that mums and dads can use when considering which school they would like their child to attend. 

It also gives parents an opportunity to check how well the school their children currently attend is faring.

However, the issue of school league tables is a sensitive one, with some critics suggesting it is unfair for schools to be so publicly judged based on just one aspect of their performance, failing to take into account all other achievements of the school and not recognising the hard work teachers have put in to ensure pupils are able to gain the qualifications they need.

In addition, the lists do not factor in matters such as how happy a child is when attending a certain school and whether he or she is safe - issues that are likely to be top concerns for parents.

Despite this, it is important that parents have as much information at their disposal as possible when it comes to making big decisions about their child's future - and this, it is argued, means there is a definite use for school league tables.

The Schooldays.ie website chooses not to publish full comparative league tables, however they provide progression information in respect of individual schools on each secondary school’s profile page on their site. Data is available for the last seven years, including the latest data for college admissions in Autumn 2012.

The Sunday Times table

The Sunday Times released its school leagues table list for 2013 at the beginning of June. Topping the rundown - which is entitled the Sunday Times Parent Power survey and ranks Ireland's best 400 schools - was Glenstal Abbey School in County Limerick.

It is the second year in a row that the school has claimed the top prize, while it has sent an average of 93.3 per cent of students to university over the past three years.

The school has less than 200 pupils and small classes - core subjects have no more than 16 students in them - and Brother Martin Browne, headmaster at the school, told the Sunday Times that this school policy is very important.

He stated: "It's very easy for a student to be passive in any size of a class, but it's particularly easy in a large class. That smaller classes provide a more human scale to conduct the business of teaching and learning is the bottom line."

The Irish Times table

In addition to the Sunday Times rundown, parents can also consult a similar release from the Irish Times. 

Last year's publication revealed an increasing number of Leaving Certificate students proceeded to third-level education. Indeed, while the average progression rate ten years ago was around 70 per cent, this figure hit 80 per cent in 2012.

It was also shown that while private fee-paying schools, Gaelscoileanna and state schools in more affluent regions performed well in the tables, the same could not be said for schools located in disadvantaged parts of the country. 

What can parents learn?

Using these tables may give parents a better idea of the standards expected at certain schools and might even give an insight into the likelihood of their child taking that next step into higher education.

However, the lists are not the be-all and end-all, so parents should bear in mind that there are lots of other aspects to consider when choosing a school for their child.ADNFCR-2163-ID-801605618-ADNFCR


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