School League Tables: State-funded schools closing gap with the fee-paying sector on college entry
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State-funded schools continue to close the gap with the fee-paying sector when it comes to college entry, but a wide divide persists between pupils from the most affluent and most financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
The annual Feeder Schools supplement, published with the Irish Independent and Independent.ie today, provides a school-by-school breakdown of how many of their pupils enrolled in higher education this autumn - and in what college.
Today's table focuses on higher education only, but there is an increasing variety of education and training pathways to a meaningful career, such as via an apprenticeship, which many school-leavers are now taking-up.
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But the challenge for the policy-makers and education system is to ensure students everywhere have the same opportunities and choices, and today's figures confirm that is not happening.
As usual, fee-paying schools delivered the highest proportion of their past pupils to first year lecture halls, particularly in universities, with most having 100pc progression rates to third-level.
But growing numbers of the almost 700 post-primary schools in the publicly funded sector are hitting the 100pc mark, or as close to it as makes no difference, with a minimum 70pc-80pc increasingly the norm.
The figures also show how schools serving the most socio-economic disadvantaged communities can lag well behind, with progression rates commonly in the 20pc-40pc range, although in many, the numbers transferring to higher education are rising.
As in previous years, University College Dublin (UCD) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), attract much higher proportions of pupils from the fee-paying sector.
This year, UCD accounts for about 27pc of school-leavers from fee-paying schools who entered higher education, compared with about 9pc from all schools, while the comparable figures for TCD are about 18pc and 6pc.
The imbalance is partly explained by the concentration of fee-paying schools in their hinterlands, and the practice in Ireland of staying closer to home when it comes to third-level.
But it also reflects recent research by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), showing how the most advantaged students garner the most CAO points, giving them first choice of the most elite courses.
The study showed how 36pc of enrolments in first year medicine were students from the most affluent families, compared with 3.5pc from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The new Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) also has a high proportion of former pupils of fee-paying schools enrolled in first year, at about 16pc, compared with 11pc from all schools.