Irish Education System
Children attend Primary (junior) School between the ages of 4 and 12.
Primary schools are also known as national schools. Primary education is also referred to as first level education; Foundation to Year 7 in the UK.
Primary School covers eight years – a two-year infant cycle followed by six years from first to sixth class. Children move to the next class at the end of each school year. The school year runs from September to June.
The Junior School day in Alexandra College runs from 8.45am and classes end at 3.00pm. Each day begins with Assembly.
For more information about our Junior School, click here.
Children from about 12 to 18 years old attend Secondary (senior) School.
Secondary School covers six years from 1st Year to 6th Year. Alexandra College Senior School starts at 8.45am with Assembly and finishes at 4.00pm.
Students in 1st to 3rd Year (aged 12 to 15) follow the Junior Cycle curriculum which offers a wide range of subjects.
All students must follow courses in the following:
- Irish (except where exempt)
- European Language
- Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE)
- Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE)
- Information Technology
- Physical Education
Students then chose five subjects from the following*;
- Business Studies
- Home Economics
*There must be a minimum of 6 students in a class for a subject to take place.
Transition Year or 4th Year (16 years old) is a one year programme between the Junior and Senior Cycle.
The programme is designed to act as a bridge between the two by facilitating the smooth transition from the more dependent learning of the Junior Cycle to the more independent self-directed learning required for the Senior Cycle.
The Transition Year offers students an opportunity:
- To engage in independent, self-directed learning
- To develop general, technical and academic skills
- To mature and develop without the pressure of an examination
The Senior Cycle covers 5th and 6th Year (17 and 18 years old).
At the end of the Senior Cycle, the students sit the Leaving Certificate Examinations. Most students study 7 subjects in the Senior Cycle and will then go on to sit the Leaving Certificate Examinations.
Applications to Irish third-level colleges are managed by the Central Applications Office (CAO). Eligibility is based on each student’s best six results in the Leaving Certificate – representing a maximum score of 625 points. At a national level, the average Leaving Certificate student scores around 300 points and most national university courses require 300-500 points. There is a lot of competition for places, with many courses in subjects like medicine and law requiring more than 500 points.
Points achieved in the Irish Leaving Certificate system can be used to apply for Northern Ireland and UK universities, and other overseas universities. Students and their parents are advised to check the requirements for universities and the courses they are interested in before selecting their Leaving Certificate subjects and to verify their options directly with the universities in question.
Alexandra College has a strong record of points obtained, with an average score of 468 points in 2019, and each year comfortably above 400 points. Around 30% of our girls achieve more than 500 points (compared to a national average of fewer than 10%).
For the Leaving Certificate Exams, students must take Irish (except where exempt), English, Maths and a European Language.
Students can choose one the European Language from the list below:
Students then choose three options from the following subjects:
- Science Group: Agricultural Science, Applied Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics,
- Business Group: Accounting, Business, Economics
- Social Studies Group: Art, Classical Studies, Latin, Geography, History, Home Economics, Music, Politics and Society
There are practical examinations and project work in certain subjects, such as Art, Music and Agricultural Science. There are oral examinations in Irish and continental languages. The practical and oral tests take place during the final year of the programme. The written examination is held in June each year.