Pupil numbers at ETB schools rise by almost 1,000 in five years

By Diarmaid Doherty

THE number of pupils choosing to attend Donegal ETB’s 15 post primary schools has risen by almost 1,000 in just five years, new figures have revealed.

And the new chairman of Donegal ETB, Cllr. Donal Coyle, said the statistics are proof of a changing attitude towards ETB schools when families are deciding on where to send their children for their secondary education.


The figures were revealed at last week’s meeting of Donegal ETB by Martin Gormley, Director of Schools.

He said there were just over 5,000 pupils enrolled at Donegal ETB schools in 2018, and that figure has risen to 5,936 for 2023.

He acknowledged the arrival of Ukrainian students, but insisted they fall short of making up the extra 900+ new pupils.

“I think what’s making the difference is the staff that’s in our schools, and what we are doing in terms of promoting what’s good and what’s happening in an ETB school,” he said.

“The message is getting out there and parents are making a conscientious decision that they want to send their children to an ETB school.”

He added that in towns where there are two or three secondary schools, the ETB school is now being considered by families more than ever.

“Those things don’t happen unless we have staff in the schools that show commitment and care for their students,” he said.


Cllr Coyle described the rise in student numbers as a good news story.

Noting that some schools may have to put a cap on pupil numbers, he added: “I suppose from that point of view, the progression of our building programme for our schools is essential.

“It’s a good news story and it does reflect the way things have changed over the years in relation to our ETB schools.

“There’s a positivity out there in the community that our ETB schools are as good if not better than many of the other schools in the county.

“That’s due to the quality of the teaching and the learning in our schools so I’d like to congratulate everyone on that.”

Board Staff Nominee Barry Molloy said it was positive news to see pupil numbers increasing.

However, he offered a word of caution that the rising numbers would put put an increased strain on resources and on staff.

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