Sunday 21 July 2019

Leinster and Munster see most dramatic turnarounds

Liam O'Brien, Principal at Scoil Aireagail in Ballyhale Co. Kilkenny pictured with students Roy Cullen 6th year and Amy Laherty 3rd Year.
Liam O'Brien, Principal at Scoil Aireagail in Ballyhale Co. Kilkenny pictured with students Roy Cullen 6th year and Amy Laherty 3rd Year.
Music Class in KIlrush Community School KIlrush Co Clare
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Schools in Munster and Leinster have seen the most dramatic improvements in academic performance over the last eight years, with some doubling the number of students they have sent to third level in that time.

Three schools placed just half of their pupils in third level in 2009 but have since improved at such a rate that they recorded perfect results last year.

Presentation Secondary School, Ballingarry, Co Tipperary; Scoil Aireagail, Ballyhale, Co Kilkenny; and Kilrush Community School, Co Clare have made the biggest strides nationally.

The trio sent 51pc of their students on to universities and institutes of technology eight years ago. However, they were among a group of 83 schools to send all of their pupils on to third level last September.

Kilrush Community School narrowly pipped Presentation Secondary School, Ballingarry, to the title of the country's most improved school.

Almost three quarters (73pc) of Kilrush students were placed in third level between 2009 and 2016, with 49pc moving on to university.

Tipperary's Presentation Secondary School, Ballingarry, has sent 2pc fewer students to third level in the same period but placed more than one-third (36pc) of students in university.

Two Kilkenny schools are also among the most improved. Duiske College in Graignamanagh placed all its students in colleges last year, up from 59pc in 2009.

Scoil Aireagail in Ballyhale has increased its number of students placed in third level from 51pc eight years ago to 100pc last year. Almost two thirds (63pc) of their students have secured college places in the same period and 22pc have gone on to university.

The school's principal Liam O'Brien attributes much of this success to group work and the effort put in by students and teachers.

"Quality teaching and learning are the core business of the school and we have put a lot of effort into introducing progressive teaching methodologies in the school, such as co-operative learning.

"It brings about a more engaged student and a more committed student. We have a school improvement plan in place and it is working to good effect."

Mr O'Brien adds that good communication with students is vital to creating a thriving learning environment in the school.

He says the school's size, with 200 students and more than 20 teachers, helps build success.

"The most important thing is that we have high expectations for the students and this is constantly communicated to them and the wider school community. Our teachers expect a high standard of work and dedication from the students."

The principal concludes: "We have a very dedicated staff here who go well beyond the call of duty. Because we are a relatively small school there is a strong relationship between teachers and students and that is the basis for getting real commitment from the students."

Sunday Independent

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