When the different groups are compared, community background is the area where fewest differences exist in 2007/08. Amongst the population, the economically active from both communities hold very similar levels of highest education attainment. Amongst school leavers, there has been considerable improvement in the highest level of educational attainment of both communities, although this rate of improvement has been slightly greater for Roman Catholics than for Protestants. Thus, the gap between highest educational attainment of Protestant and Roman Catholic school leavers has widened.
Some differences are notable when looking at gender, particularly with regards to levels of highest educational attainment and subject choices within Further or Higher Education. Economically active females are more likely than males to hold a higher level of education attainment. In addition, while there has been considerable improvement in the highest level of educational attainment of both male and female school leavers, this improvement has been markedly more evident for females than for males. Thus, the gap between highest educational attainment of male and female school leavers has widened.
Those with/without a declared disability
There are still considerable differences in the highest educational attainment and in participation in Further or Higher Education between those with and without a declared disability. Economically active people without a declared disability remain more likely than those with a declared disability to hold a higher level of education attainment.
In addition, while there has been considerable improvement in the highest level of educational attainment of economically active people with and without a declared disability, this improvement has been markedly more evident for those without a declared disability.
With regards to participation in third-level education, while those with a declared disability remain under-represented at this level, an improvement has occurred in the proportion who are accessing institutes of Higher Education in Northern Ireland.
Over the aggregate period 2003/04-2007/08 there has been a noticeable gap between the highest education attainment and destinations of Irish Traveller and non-Traveller school leavers. The majority of Irish Travellers left school with no GCSEs, while the majority of non-Travellers left school with GCSE or higher qualifications. The most common intended non-employment destination for Irish Travellers leaving school was unemployment, while the most common intended destination for non-Travellers was Higher Education. Furthermore, in the aggregated time-period examined, zero percent of Irish Travellers indicated they intended to continue on to Higher Education.
Children in Care
It is evident that care-leavers exit secondary education with lower educational attainment levels than all school leavers and have lower rates of going on to an educational destination. Little or no improvement in the educational attainment levels and non-employment destinations of care-leavers leaving school occurred between 2001/02 and 2007/08. In comparison, there has been an improvement in the highest level of educational attainment of all school leavers, and in the proportion of all school leavers continuing on to third level education.
The Research and Evaluation Team of the Equality Commission wrote this report. However, it draws on key government data sources, namely the Labour Force Survey, the Qualifications and Destinations of School Leavers Survey, the Enrolments in Further Education dataset, the Enrolments in Higher Education dataset and the Northern Ireland Care Leavers Survey. We would like to thank all those who assisted us in collating this data.
Download our key findings:
- Inequalities in Education - Facts and Trends 1998-2008 - Research Report (2011 pdf 444kb,65 pages)
- Inequalities in Education - Facts and Trends 1998-2008 - Summary Report (2011, pdf 178kb, 16 pages)
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