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Multi-Denominational School Enrollment Surpasses Catholic Schools at Post-Primary Level

In a historic shift, the number of students attending multi-denominational schools at the post-primary level has surpassed those enrolled in Catholic schools for the first time during the academic year, according to new figures from the Department of Education. The data reveals that 201,102 pupils attended multi-denominational schools in September, representing 48.3% of the total, while 199,292 students were in Catholic schools, accounting for 47.8% of all enrollments at the secondary level.

This change was driven by a 4% increase in enrollments over the past 12 months in multi-denominational schools, with pupil numbers rising by 7,747. In contrast, the growth in student numbers in Catholic schools was smaller, at 0.8%, with a net increase of just 1,519. The Department of Education attributes the gradual rise in the number of post-primary schools to demographic changes.

The figures indicate that the number of multi-denominational schools has remained unchanged over the past year at 358, while the number of Catholic schools has decreased by six to 337. Overall, the number of students attending post-primary schools rose by 2.5% in September to 416,631, reflecting an annual increase of 10,239. Excluding students from Ukraine, the increase would have been 7,782, or 1.9%.

Furthermore, the number of students from Ukraine enrolled at the post-primary level on December 21 has risen by 24.7% to 6,836 since the summer holidays. The figures also reveal an increase in the number of all students attending post-primary schools in all local authority areas, with the exception of Clare, where enrollments fell by 49.

While the primary level witnessed a decrease of 0.4% to 546,787 students, the impact of students from Ukraine prevented a more significant decline. If children from Ukraine were excluded, the preliminary figures suggest an annual decrease of 1.0% or a net reduction of 5,577 in overall enrollments.

In terms of school ethos, the proportion of students attending Catholic primary schools dropped slightly from 88.9% in 2022 to 88.6% this year. Multi-denominational schools now account for 8.1% of the total, compared to 7.8% in 2022, with the number of students attending such schools rising by 3% in the past year. Over the past 12 years, the number of Catholic schools has fallen by 126, while 71 multi-denominational schools have been established.

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