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Education in County Kildare

Second Level


This section will focus on issues relating to Second Level Education.

The Post Primary School Curriculum

Second Level Students on a CorridorThe curriculum for Post Primary schools has two major sections:

Junior Cycle for the 12 - 15 age group
Senior Cycle for the 15 - 18 age group

Second level education aims to provide a comprehensive, high-quality learning environment which prepares individual students for higher or continuing education or for immediate entry into the workplace.

Types of School

There are several types of post-primary school in Ireland. The history of each type of school and the management structure may differ but they also have a lot in common. The second level education sector comprises secondary, vocational, community and comprehensive schools.

Secondary schools are privately owned and managed. The trustees of the majority of these schools are religious communities or Boards of Governors. Vocational schools are State established and are administered by Vocational Education Committees (VECs) while community and comprehensive schools are managed by Boards of Management.

The Curriculum

The curriculum is prescribed by the State and there are two State examinations

  • The Junior Certificate Examination
  • The Leaving Certificate Examination

These take place at the end of the Junior Cycle and the Senior Cycle, in June.

Second level education consists of a three-year Junior Cycle (lower secondary), followed by a two or three year Senior Cycle (upper secondary), depending on whether the optional Transition Year is taken.

The Transition Year, which immediately follows the Junior Cycle, provides an opportunity for students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, including work experience, and it is free from formal examinations. Transition Year puts an emphasis on personal development, social awareness and skills for life.

In Senior Cycle, students can take the traditional Leaving Certificate, the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) or the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA).

Syllabi are available in 34 subjects. All subjects are offered at two levels, ordinary and higher. Irish and Mathematics are also available at foundation level. Students following the established Leaving Certificate Programme are required to take at least five subjects, one of which must be Irish.

The last number of years have been characterised by a programme of revision and updating of syllabi for individual subjects.


At school level, formative, diagnostic and summative assessment is undertaken on a regular basis, with particular emphasis being placed on more formal examinations before the Christmas, Easter and Summer breaks. On the basis of these assessments, teachers and principals report to parents on student progress and advise on level and subject options.

At the end of senior cycle, students take the Leaving Certificate examination. Grades awarded in this examination are translated into points scores for entry to University and third level education generally.

Students who follow the Leaving Certificate Applied programme take a number of Link Modules which have a strong vocational dimension. These students also take an examination, but they have accumulated some credit over the two years of study.

Examination Papers, examiners reports and the schedule for the examinations are available on the website of the <a href="">Department of Education and Science</a>.

The <a href="">State Examinations Commission</a> is responsible for the development, assessment, accreditation and certification of the second-level examinations of the Irish state: the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate.

ICT at Second Level

The role of ICT in curriculum and assessment is a key focus of the ongoing review and implementation of junior and senior cycle education. In revising subjects at both junior and senior cycle, syllabuses and associated guidance are establishing the role of ICT as a teaching and learning tool, as an integral part of the curriculum, or as an integral part of curriculum and assessment.

The National Centre for Technology in Education is an Irish Government agency established to provide advice, support and information on the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in education. Many other websites and resources are available to assist and encourage teachers to use ICT.

Second Level Schools

A List of Second Level Schools in County Kildare
School Subjects - Information & resources on subjects at second level

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