Education System in Ireland

The Education system in Ireland comprises of primary, secondary and higher education. With a rapid growth in the economy of Ireland, the education system has witnessed much change since the 1960s. Interestingly, for students applying from the European Union, Education is free at all levels, including college and for universities there are student service fee that students are required to pay during the registration. This fee covers the registration, insurance and examinations costs. There are many statutory and non-statutory bodies which plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the education system in Ireland.

The compulsory education in Ireland is for all the children between age group of six to sixteen or until the student have completed three successful years of second level education. Children are generally enrolled in the Junior Infant class at the age of either four or five depending on parents preferences and the policy of the school. Some schools require the child to have attained the age of four before a specific date in order to enroll. Otherwise, the child must seek a place in a different school or wait until the next year to enroll.

Primary Education

Duration of primary education in Ireland is around seven to eight years of preliminary classes, where children commence their education at the age of 4-5 or 5-6 years and will be completed at the age of 11-12 or 12-13. The Primary School Curriculum (1999) is followed by all the schools in Ireland. The document is prepared by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.
  • Junior Infants (Naionain Shoisearacha) (age 4-5/5-6)
  • Senior Infants (Naionain Shinsearacha) (age 5-6/6-7)
  • First Class (Rang a hAon) (age 6-7/7-8)
  • Second Class (Rang a Do) (age 7-8/8-9)
  • Third Class (Rang a Tri) (age 8-9/9-10)
  • Fourth Class (Rang a Ceathar) (age 9-10/10-11)
  • Fifth Class (Rang a Cuig) (age 10-11/11-12)
  • Sixth Class (Rang a Se) (age 11-12/12-13)

Secondary Education

The secondary school in Ireland starts between the age of 16–19. A student completes secondary education at one of these four types of school, viz. Comprehensive schools or community schools, Voluntary secondary schools, Vocational schools, Gaelcholaistes or Grind Schools.

The secondary school is divided into three parts which includes-

Junior Cycle (Timthriall Soisearach)

  • 1st Year (An Chead Bhliain) (age 12–14)
  • 2nd Year (An Dara Bliain) (age 13–15)
  • 3rd Year (An Triu Bliain) (age 14–16) – The Junior Certificate (Teastas Soisearach) examination is sat in all subjects (usually 10 or 11) in early June. Many schools hold Mock Examinations (also known as Pre-Certificate Examinations) to prepare students around February. The mocks are not state examinations — independent companies provide the exam papers and marking schemes – and are therefore not mandatory across all schools.

Transition Year (Idirbhliain)

  • Transition Year (Idirbhliain) is between the ages of 15-17. However, transition year is optional in some schools and compulsory in others and in some schools it is not available

Senior Cycle (Timthriall Sinsearach)

  • 5th Year (An Cuigiu Bliain) is between the ages of 16–18 or if the transition year is skipped then between 15–17
  • 6th Year (An Seu Bliain) is between the age of 17–19 and if the transition year is skipped then between 16–18. The Leaving Certificate (Ardteistimeireacht) examinations begin on the first Wednesday after the June bank holiday every year. Many schools have mock examinations to prepare the students around February.

Higher Education

The Higher education awards in Ireland are conferred by National University of Ireland (Cork, Dublin, Galway and Maynooth), Trinity College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, Higher Education and Training Awards Council, University of Limerick and Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and St. Patrick's College, Maynooth . These are the Government of Ireland approved degree-awarding authorities and can grant awards at all academic levels.

The higher education in Ireland comprises of the following certificates, diplomas and degrees-
  • Level 1 Certificate
  • Level 2 Certificate
  • Level 3 Certificate or Junior Certificate
  • Level 4 Certificate or Leaving Certificate
  • Level 5 Certificate or Leaving Certificate
  • Advanced Certificate or Higher Certificate
  • Ordinary Bachelor's degree
  • Honours Bachelor's Degree or Higher diploma
  • Master's degree or Postgraduate diploma
  • Doctorate degree or Higher doctorate
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