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 colleges in that time, the Sunday Independent school league tables reveal.
Three schools placed just half of their pupils in third level in 2009 but have improved at such a rate since 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, institutes of technology and other colleges eight years ago. However, they were among a group of 83 schools nationally to send all of their pupils on to third level last September.
Overall, fee-paying schools continue to dominate when it comes to sending students to third level, but schools in the free scheme are catching up.
Out of more than 700 schools analysed nationwide, just six have maintained a 100pc record in sending students on to third level in that time, according to figures covering eight years of college entry data.
Just one non-fee-paying school has maintained that perfect record since 2009.
By comparing the percentage of students who were admitted to a university after studying in a school with a perfect record, it is possible to distinguish which is the best performer overall.
The figures compiled by the Sunday Independent in the most comprehensive study of its kind to date show that Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick, has emerged as the county’s best-performing school, up two places from third on last year’s tables.
It just pipped Presentation Brothers College in the Mardyke, Cork to top spot.
An analysis of the data shows Glenstal Abbey has had the greatest percentage of students going to university since 2009.
Digging deeper it is possible to see that the school, which charges a €18,950 seven-day boarding fee, sends a majority of its students on to Dublin-based universities.
A special supplement with the full details of this year’s school league tables is published today only in the Sunday Independent.