Private schools in Dublin

What are your options and is it worth it?
Choosing a school for your child is a big decision and one that weighs heavily on many parents and guardians. If you go for a fee-paying institution, what are your options? If you’re a parent who wants your child privately educated in Dublin, is it really worth paying for? What should you consider before making the call? And what sort of money are you looking at paying?

Here’s Dublin.ie’s Q&A guide to fee-paying schools

How many fee-paying schools are there?
There are 33 fee-paying schools in Dublin, the majority of which are concentrated around the south city and county. Of these, 28 offer the Leaving Certificate exam, which is the standard admission test for Irish higher education institutions (HEIs) including universities and colleges.

This figure includes one, Nord Anglia – an innovative international school with a very low pupil-teacher ratio and aimed squarely at the children of CEOs and diplomats, which is due to open in September 2018.

Also included are two so-called “grind schools” – the Institute of Education on Leeson Street in Dublin city centre, and Ashfield College in Dundrum (south county Dublin) – which are focused on maximising a student’s exam results, tend to include a focus on study skills and which are also a popular option for students who are repeating the Leaving Cert.

Some schools offer boarding including Alexandra College, Blackrock College, St Columba’s College and the King’s Hospital School.

There are also a few just outside Dublin county including Newbridge College and grind school Leinster Senior College (both in Newbridge, Co Kildare), Clongowes Wood (Clane, Co Kildare) and St Gerard’s in Bray, Co. Wicklow (close to the border of Co. Dublin).

How does the Leaving Cert work?
Students are awarded a certain number of “points” for each grade which are combined to give a total number of points; the HEIs weigh up the demand for each course and set a points score. Students who have met the required number of points secure a place – medicine, for instance, is a high-demand course and students need high points to get into it, while the points requirements for arts courses have been falling over the years because the demand for places is falling.

Are there alternatives to the Leaving Cert?
Of the 33 schools, the Lycée Français d’Irlande in Clonskeagh, south county Dublin, offers only the international baccalauréat or the OIB (the baccalauréat delivered through French). When it opens its doors, Nord Anglia International School in Leopardstown, south county Dublin, will also offer only the IB. A third school, St Andrew’s in Booterstown, south county Dublin, offers a choice between the Leaving Cert and the IB.

What’s the academic performance of these schools like?
Ireland doesn’t publish League Tables as such, so there’s no way of directly accessing a school’s exam results. Several newspapers, including The Irish Times, publish annual “feeder school” lists which track the number of students from each school in the Republic of Ireland who secure a place in each of the HEIs.

Grind schools, which do not receive any public funding, are not included in these feeder school lists, although the Institute of Education publishes its own results and says fee-paying schools tend to perform well in these lists. In last year’s Irish Times Feeder School lists, 50 schools recorded a third-level progression rate of 100 per cent, and 14 of these were fee-paying schools in Dublin, while a further five were fee-paying schools in other parts of Ireland.

To put this in context, there are 711 post-primary schools in Ireland, so it’s safe to say that students who attend fee-paying schools are more likely to go to third-level, and especially more likely to secure a place in a high-points course (at an Irish university, a teacher training college the Dublin Institute of Technology or the Royal College of Surgeons).

Pupils of St Andrew’s on a visit to Amgen biopharmaceutical company

The top fee-paying schools in Dublin included:
#1: Holy Child School, Military Road, Killiney, Co Dublin (Catholic, girls)
#3: Sandford Park School, Sandford Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 (interdenominational, mixed gender)
#4: Gonzaga College, Sandford Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 (Catholic, boys)
#7: The Teresian School, 12 Stillorgan Road, Dublin 4 (Catholic, girls)
#17: The High School, Zion Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6 (Church of Ireland, mixed gender)
#18: Blackrock College, Blackrock, Co Dublin (Catholic, boys)
#23: Loreto High School, Beaufort, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 (Catholic, girls)
#26: Belvedere College, Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1 (Catholic, boys)

Can the feeder school lists be trusted?
They’re not perfect, and they have their limitations. There is much more to a school than the metric of third-level progression alone and parents should also consider logging on to the Department of Education‘s website to check out whole-school evaluation and subject inspection reports, which will give a more-rounded view of a school’s supports for young people with additional learning needs, extracurricular offerings, religious ethos and more. It’s also strongly advised to attend an open day if possible.

The feeder school lists don’t measure the number of students going on to study apprenticeships and further education courses. But they do tell us about one all-important metric: the relative academic performance of schools. Irish HEIs only admit on the basis of Leaving Cert results (with the exception of a small number of courses such as art and architecture where a student’s portfolio is also taken into account) so they are still the best guide to how many students in a school will go on to third-level.

What other factors should parents and guardians consider, and what questions should they ask?
Extracurricular: Does the school offer a wide range of sports and social opportunities? Is it all rugby, or can your child indulge in drama, music, art, debating, chess? Are there initiatives to promote positive mental health and to prevent bullying?

Subject choice and class size: Ask your child what subjects interest them; are they into science, classics, art or music? What languages do they offer and will your child have a choice here? Ask the school what the average class size is: this will be smaller in fee-paying schools than in non-fee paying schools.

Religion and sexuality: A majority of post-primary schools in Ireland are religious, mainly Catholic, and opting out of religion can be challenging. One fee-paying Catholic school, Belvedere College, comes from the Jesuit tradition and is more focused on social justice and inclusion than on conservative religious positions. Schools will all generally say they are inclusive and welcoming, but it’s worth asking what their relationship and sexuality programme is like, including what outside agencies come into the school.

Gender: Of Dublin’s fee-paying schools, 12 are all-girls, 10 are all-boys and 11 are co-educational. Dublin’s fee-paying co-ed schools are, in general, much less likely to be Catholic. Research on the relative academic merits of fee-paying and single-sex schools is mixed, but there is solid evidence that co-education provides young people with a better social preparation.

What are the annual fees like?
We’ve included a small selection:
Nord Anglia: €24,000
St Columba’s College, Rathfarnham: €8,000
Blackrock College: €6,900
Gonzaga College: €6,015
Belvedere College: €5,690
The Teresian School: €5,360
John Scottus School: €4,300
Loreto High School: €3,900

Peter McGuire compiles the annual Irish Times feeder school lists and is a regular contributor to the paper’s education coverage

Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Amy Sergison works in the advertising industry, creating social and digital content for brands in Ireland and the UK. The child of inner-city parents, Dublin is in her blood. When not writing you can find Amy screaming at a rugby match, Instagramming her dinner, or searching for solace in the quiet spots of the city.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Lynn is a proud Corkonian who arrived in Dublin in 2013 and unfortunately loves it too much to leave. She works in advertising, and spends most of her time pondering the ageless question: "Daddy or chips?"
Nicky is a social media and content specialist who creates social and digital content for brands in Ireland and the UK.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Karl Whitney is the author of Hidden City: Adventures and Explorations in Dublin (Penguin). A keen explorer of Dublin, his research has brought him to some unusual places – including the city’s main sewage plant and the underground tunnels through which the River Poddle flows. He has written for the Guardian, the Irish Times and the London Review of Books.
Patrick studied English, Media and Cultural Studies and now works as a freelance journalist. He writes about social and cultural issues, football and a bit of technology, as well as some fiction. He's confused by the world but finds solace in the smooth rhythms of Marvin Gaye.
Karl Whitney is the author of Hidden City: Adventures and Explorations in Dublin (Penguin). A keen explorer of Dublin, his research has brought him to some unusual places – including the city’s main sewage plant and the underground tunnels through which the River Poddle flows. He has written for the Guardian, the Irish Times and the London Review of Books.
Patrick studied English, Media and Cultural Studies and now works as a freelance journalist. He writes about social and cultural issues, football and a bit of technology, as well as some fiction. He's confused by the world but finds solace in the smooth rhythms of Marvin Gaye.
Kevin Barrington is a poet, multimedia artist and a regular on the open mic scene around town. Kevin is also an award winning advertising copywriter and blogger. He gets his adrenalin from cycling around town or out to the 40ft for a swim.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Kevin Barrington is a poet, multimedia artist and a regular on the open mic scene around town. Kevin is also an award winning advertising copywriter and blogger. He gets his adrenalin from cycling around town or out to the 40ft for a swim.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Kevin Barrington is a poet, multimedia artist and a regular on the open mic scene around town. Kevin is also an award winning advertising copywriter and blogger. He gets his adrenalin from cycling around town or out to the 40ft for a swim.
Patrick studied English, Media and Cultural Studies and now works as a freelance journalist. He writes about social and cultural issues, football and a bit of technology, as well as some fiction. He's confused by the world but finds solace in the smooth rhythms of Marvin Gaye.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Peter McGuire is a freelance features and news journalist. He also works a researcher and editor. He is a regular contributor to The Irish Times and the Huffington Post, and has also written for the Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent.
Genevieve is a sunset child from the west of Ireland, now living and working in Dublin as an advertising creative. She doodles, she dreams, she travels, she schemes.
Genevieve is a sunset child from the west of Ireland, now living and working in Dublin as an advertising creative. She doodles, she dreams, she travels, she schemes.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Genevieve is a sunset child from the west of Ireland, now living and working in Dublin as an advertising creative. She doodles, she dreams, she travels, she schemes.
Amy Sergison works in the advertising industry, creating social and digital content for brands in Ireland and the UK. The child of inner-city parents, Dublin is in her blood. When not writing you can find Amy screaming at a rugby match, Instagramming her dinner, or searching for solace in the quiet spots of the city.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Genevieve is a sunset child from the west of Ireland, now living and working in Dublin as an advertising creative. She doodles, she dreams, she travels, she schemes.
Catherine Conroy is a Dublin writer, regularly contributing to The Irish Times, and dabbling in fiction in The Dublin Review. Her novel continues to wait patiently in a drawer.
Dave likes words. Big ones, small ones, bad ones and beautiful ones. But most of all he loves using them to talk about his favourite things – many of which happen to be right here in his hometown.
Dave likes words. Big ones, small ones, bad ones and beautiful ones. But most of all he loves using them to talk about his favourite things – many of which happen to be right here in his hometown.
Genevieve is a sunset child from the west of Ireland, now living and working in Dublin as an advertising creative. She doodles, she dreams, she travels, she schemes.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.
Genevieve is a sunset child from the west of Ireland, now living and working in Dublin as an advertising creative. She doodles, she dreams, she travels, she schemes.
Genevieve is a sunset child from the west of Ireland, now living and working in Dublin as an advertising creative. She doodles, she dreams, she travels, she schemes.
Amy Sergison works in the advertising industry, creating social and digital content for brands in Ireland and the UK. The child of inner-city parents, Dublin is in her blood. When not writing you can find Amy screaming at a rugby match, Instagramming her dinner, or searching for solace in the quiet spots of the city.
Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.
Derek is a writer and filmmaker, with a passion for popular culture, tech and Dublin. Find him on Linkedin and (occasionally) Twitter: @oldderekoconnor.
Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.
Derek is a writer and filmmaker, with a passion for popular culture, tech and Dublin. Find him on Linkedin and (occasionally) Twitter: @oldderekoconnor.
Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

I’m 13 years old, and I’m into coding. I went to my first coding club in Coder Dojo when I was 9, my Mum heard about it from someone and said that I should just give it a go, and from the first day I just loved the fact that you could create anything from coding. Coder Dojo runs classes that teach young people how to code for free, there are always mentors there to help you if you get stuck with anything. I think that they’re great, they have gotten a lot of young people into coding, and into tech. If you’re really creative, and you have a passion for it, then you’ll get good at coding. I like creating things with it.

I’m the 2015 EU Digital Girl Of The Year. I got my Mum to put my name down for it, but didn’t expect to hear anything back. Then they said I had been shortlisted, and I got to go over to Luxembourg. They had this big event, and a dinner and everything, it was really cool. I like to make Apps. I’ve made an App called reCharge My eCar – it’s for electric cars, and it shows you where all the charging points are in Ireland, and whether somebody’s using them, so that you don’t have to wait in a queue for a charging point. I’m working on another one called Auto-Journalist, it’s for journalists and interviewees; it sets up the questions and sends them to the interviewees, who can then record themselves using the camera or microphone on their phones. When I get older, I think I’d like to start a big tech business. That would be cool.

Dublin is a really great place for tech, because there are loads of Coder Dojos here, and you also have events like the BT Young Scientist and Coolest Projects, where people from all over the country come to take part. Before I started coding, I had played computer games, but never knew about all the work that goes into making them. I found it really interesting to see how it all works. Now, when an App glitches, I don’t get annoyed. I know somebody out there is trying to fix it.

Dublin is really cool. It some cities it can be really crowded, but I think Dublin has just the right amount of people. In town, you don’t get loads of people all squished together in one place. There are loads of great places to go. And lots of cool shops. I love going shopping on Grafton Street. And I did the Viking Splash Tour, and thought that was really good.

If we start getting more girls into tech now, then the next generation of girls will have role models to look up to, and go ‘Well, I want to get into tech, too.’ If we start doing it now, then it’ll keep on going. It’s important.

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