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Mission Statement

Administration, Staff and Parents at Carlow Vocational School seek to promote a secure and caring community environment and a balanced curriculum which is student centred, with parents recognised as the first educators and teachers as facilitators of the learning process.

In partnership ,we hope to provide an atmosphere, which encourages respect, responsibility and commitment, drawing forth the positive potential of each individual, thus equipping all students to take their place in life and work in the future. 


Reasons to Study at Carlow Vocational School


A Caring Inclusive School Community

We believe that every student matters and we offer a genuinely supportive environment where young people can learn and thrive.  Our dedicated teaching staff provides pastoral and academic support in and out of the classroom and are always ready to help. Parents
and guardians are always welcome and are regularly informed of their children’s progress

‘The learning atmosphere in all lessons was
caring, positive and encouraging’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012

Outstanding Inspection Reports

Inspectors from the Department of Education have
observed very positive practice at Carlow Vocational
School and have commended us in both subject
inspections and our recent Whole School Evaluation for
the quality of teaching and learning, exemplary student
behaviour, positive rapport between students and staff
and excellent outcomes

‘Exemplary behaviour and a good rapport between
students and their teacher was a common feature of
all lessons observed’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012

Impressive Results

Our students consistently perform well in their studies,
with excellent results and fantastic progression to courses
at University, Higher Education Institutes and Colleges,
Further Education at our Institute and on to the world
of work

‘A supportive learning environment is provided for students’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012



Excellent Choice of Subjects

We offer a wide range of subjects at foundation, ordinary and higher levels,  including options to study modern languages, business, sciences, practical subjects, technology and arts alongside the entire range of core studies

Experienced, Talented Staff

Parents and students alike so often comment on the commitment and professionalism of our staff as a key strength of our school.  Our teaching staff are experienced, highly qualified and dedicated to ensuring that you succeed at all aspects of school life.  You will find that many of them are experts in their specialist areas, and several are text book authors or subject examiners

‘There are many inclusive practices in place to
support all students’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012


Exciting Range of
Extra-Curricular Activities

School is about more than the classroom activity - our students enjoy the opportunity to pursue a wide range of extra-curricular groups and events, including sports and athletics teams, music and performing arts groups, computer and technology clubs; community and charity work as well as regular field trips, visits and tours


Affordable Schooling

We know that other expenses associated with school can mount up and we work hard to make sure that costs are kept as affordable as possible.  We offer a book-rental scheme, free breakfast club, free homework club for first years, low-cost lunch, low cost supervised study and an affordable, easy-care uniform.


About Carlow Vocational School


A Living Tradition

Our school dates back to the late eighteen hundreds when classes commenced at various locations in Carlowunder the Technical Instruction Act of 1898 and we have had the privilege to be involved in providing education for generations of families coming from Carlow town and environs.

In 1918, the celebrated playwright, George Bernard Shaw donated the Assembly Rooms to the people of Carlow for the promotion of technical education and classes,  centralised in these Assembly Rooms on Dublin Street from 1923 onwards.   In the 1930s, the Vocational Education Act saw these Technical Instruction courses formalised with the establishment of Carlow Vocational School, and the Dublin Street premises were remodelled and refurbished in 1936. 

By the 1960s the school was providing both Secondary level educational programmes preparing students for the Day Vocational Certificate, the Intermediate Certificate and Leaving Certificate Examinations and also education and training for apprentices and technicians. In the early 1970s two new schools were built on our current site – one for apprentices and technicians, which would later
become Carlow Institute of Technology, and the other our current school, providing for secondary-level courses.  Since the mid-1980s, Carlow Vocational School has also pioneered a full-time Further Education college (Carlow Institute of Further Education) and a very successful part-time Adult Education programme.

Our successful track record of innovative education reaches back over more than a century, and is the result of a continuous tradition of our students’ and staff’s dedication to realising talent and potential.   We are very proud of our long tradition of providing academic and
technical study for Carlow and are committed to continuing this work, celebrating the power of education as Carlow’s hub for Lifelong Learning.

‘The school’s ethos and atmosphere lends significantly to
allowing students to progress in education’  
DEIS Inspectorate 2010


School Facilities

Our school facilities include general purpose classrooms with interactive computer projection systems, wellequipped science labs, six computer rooms, home economics room, two metal engineering workshops, two wood workshops, three art studios, music rooms,
lunchroom and library and a recently built modern sports hall.  We invest in the best up-to-date technology to underpin and support learning which includes; language labs, CAD and computer systems, and we have a campus wide Wi-Fi network with high-speed broadband access.

An Exciting Future

Carlow Vocational School has been in its current building on the Kilkenny Road for forty years, during which time the school has grown in size and success with continued investment in equipment and facilities.  On 12th March 2012, the Minister for Education and Skills announced details of new major school building projects including a brand new state of the art school for Carlow Vocational
School which is to be constructed 2015-16.  We are looking forward to this next exciting stage of our development and to welcoming many more generations of students to a new, purpose built facility.  Watch out for details of our building plans in the local press. 


The Vocational School Experience


About Vocational Education

People sometimes ask how a vocational school programme differs from other secondary schools. Students at Carlow Vocational School benefit from a wide choice of subjects which they can study as part
of the standard Junior Certificate, Transition Year and Leaving Certificate programmes. Their experience is especially enhanced by exploring the exciting connections between their subjects and the wider world of work, enabling students plan for longer-term career choices where they can apply their skills and interests.

Practical and Academic

Carlow Vocational School’s curriculum embraces all subject types and offers one of the widest curriculum choices in the region.  We encourage all students to reach their highest standard possible, and offer a tailored curriculum with subjects taught at different
levels.  Carlow Vocational School is proud of its long tradition of providing excellence in many practical subjects, but that doesn’t mean academics are ignored. 

‘The quality of learning and teaching during the
twenty-five class periods observed was
student-centred and of a very high standard’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012

Students’ progress in academic subjects is enhanced by a genuine understanding of applied study, and most subjects offer opportunities to learn useful practical skills and technical experience.  Numeracy, literacy and the use of IT are embedded in our teaching and learning, and our entire curriculum is focused on developing the wider key skills of problem-solving, working with others and improving learning and performance. Our school is better prepared than most to take advantage of the proposed new changes to the Junior Cycle programme because our entire curriculum is focused on developing the wider key skills of problem solving, individual creativity and collegial working with others, where numeracy, literacy and the use of ICT are embedded into our teaching and learning appproach.


Assessment and Results

Our students are prepared for the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate qualifications through a combination of coursework projects and practical and written exams. We understand the demands of the preparing for exams and offer many supports to our students and their parents/guardians. Many subjects offer students the opportunity to maximise their potential through coursework projects.

Carlow Vocational School students achieve consistently excellent results in state exams, however we know that each student has their own personal goals and challenges and that success is measured in many ways. Our students leave Carlow Vocational School equipped not with qualifications, but also with the wider skills and attributes
that will support them through further study and the rest of their lives.

‘The evaluation team…commends the educational,
student support and pastoral systems in place’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012



Following their time at school, students are able to choose many different directions, many choose to progress to Higher Education, and each year, our students successfully progress through CAO to University and Higher Education programmes in Ireland and overseas, or to pursue a specific Further Education programme area at FE
Colleges, including Carlow Institute of Further Education. Some students choose to take a different path and leave directly to work, or work-based training and apprenticeship programmes. We work with each individual student to ensure that they can achieve their own personal goals.

‘(Lessons are)…characterised by a good balance of teacher and
student activity, interactivity and practical engagement in tasks’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012


Supporting Your School Experience


At Carlow Vocational School, we know everyone will need a little extra help at some point during their time at school. We aim to offer everyone the support they need to succeed.  Sometimes students need a helping hand with aspects of their learning or personal development and we have a dedicated and highly experienced team on hand who are ready to provide the support needed for you to participate successfully in school life.


‘Inclusive and caring practices…are implemented
on a daily basis’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012


Pastoral Care Team

Every member of staff is involved in student care and you will always find somebody that you can talk to about any concern you might have whilst at school.  Our Pastoral Care Team includes teachers and staff whose work has a special focus on your care and includes our Class Tutors, Year Heads, Guidance Counsellors, Home School Liaison
Officer, Resource Teacher, (School Completion Team), Deputy Principals and Principal.  Their role is to help all students make the most of the opportunities at Carlow Vocational School, offering support when and where it is needed.

‘The evaluation team concurs with this view and
commends the educational, student support
and pastoral systems in place’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012


Joining our community

If you are progressing to Carlow Vocational School from primary or another school, we think it’s especially important that we help you get used to and settle into the environment of a busy and dynamic school. For new students we can support your transition from primary school with visits to us before you start.  Our pastoral care team will organise an initial assessment for new incoming students to help you choose the best possible options for subjects and class groups.  You will have the opportunity to participate in an induction programme to help you familiarise yourself with school life and to help you get
started successful on your programme.  We are also here to help you to make friends, achieve your learning goals and make decisions about your career.

Additional Learning Support

We support students with dyslexia, hearing impairments or deafness, restricted mobility or dexterity, mental health difficulties, learning difficulties and much more.  Please let us know of any requirements on application, so we can prepare to put supports in place. 


‘The school has a highly inclusive ethos
and  embraces cultural diversity’
DEIS Inspectorate 2010

Class Tutor

Every student has a Class Tutor and is part of a small tutor group, which meets twice a day. Your tutor will work with you to ensure you make the most of your time with us by helping you set and review your own personal learning goals. Class tutors are there to help you access specialist support, give you guidance and help with study skills, attendance, punctuality and your personal development.

Reviews and Reports

Every term you will review your progress with your subject teachers and they will help you plan to build on your strengths and work on reducing any areas of weakness. These reviews result in agreed action plans, which have clear and challenging targets. Subject progress and results are reported back to parents/guardians, who will be invited to attend follow-up parent-teacher evenings in school.

‘Feedback was observed in students’ journals
giving them, and their parents, a regular and
tangible record of achievements’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012

Career Guidance

Whether you plan to go to work, college or university, our dedicated and highly skilled Career Guidance counsellors will help you through the planning, subject choice, research and application processes involved at all stages of your time at school. During your senior years, you will have the chance to visit various colleges and institutions, and representatives from universities will visit the school to talk about the application process and student life.

‘Good educational and pastoral supports through
the implementation of the special educational needs (SEN)
and Guidance programmes’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012


Personal Counselling

Our guidance counsellors are also available to support students with their own specific personal needs – you can talk through any issue with our specially trained counsellors who can give you confidential, impartial and supportive advice and direct you to additional support
services if appropriate.

Homework club and supervised study

We offer a free Homework Club for First Year students to support learning the skills required for homework and self-study for secondary school. Students can complete their homework with support and supervision, and participate in games and activities. For older students, we offer a supervised after-school study programme for a small cost – students can use this time to complete their home-work and study in a supervised environment, free from distractions.

‘Homework was prescribed in most lessons observed.  These
tasks sought to reinforce lesson content and the link between
class work and homework was outlined explicitly in order to
explain to students the benefits of completing the task’
DES Subject Inspection 2011


School Completion Programme

Carlow Vocational School participates in the School Completion Programme with a range of activities and supports to encourage all students to complete their secondary education successfully. The School Completion Programme activities include pre-entry events like  the Saturday Club (for primary school children), and programmes to help build confidence, makes friends and achieve success at the school.


For Parents


At Carlow Vocational School, we acknowledge the primary role of parents/guardians in the education of their children.  We see the close working relationship with parents/guardians as central to the success of our students, and we encourage regular input and contact through the Parents’ Association, the Home School Liaison Officer and parent-teacher meetings.  Each child’s Class Tutor and Year Head acts as a key point of contact for parents/guardians, and you are always welcome to visit the school to discuss your child’s progress.  We believe that our partnership between home and school is important because with a positive and active partnership our students receive the best that post-primary education has to offer.

School Ethos

Carlow Vocational School is proud of its inclusive and caring ethos which is so often commented upon by students and parents alike.  We welcome students from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultural traditions to a school that values the contribution made by each individual.  As a non-denominational, multi-belief school we support and respect equally the beliefs and traditions of each student in an inclusive atmosphere.

Parents’ Association

Parents have always been encouraged to play a very active part in the life of Carlow Vocational School and an active Parents’ Association has existed for many years. The Parents’ Association provides parents with an active and dynamic forum to work together with the school for the best possible education for their children.  Our Parents’ Association works with the principal, staff and the board
of management to enrich the education of the students and to build an effective partnership between home and school.

  • We know from research that pupils do better, behave better and are happier at school where parents and teachers work closely together and when parents are able to give their children support at home

  • Teachers can do a better job where they are supported by and working closely with parents

  • Parents can do a better job when they have the   support of other parents


  • All parents together can play their part in planning for the best possible education for children in their school

  • The parents association is a means to make this partnership happen

  • Every parent/guardian is welcome to participate in the work of the Parents’ Association


Home School Liaison Officer

Our Home School Liaison Officer makes a difference by providing important links between school and home, and offers a very special line of communication between parents/guardians and the school. The Home School Liaison Officer makes a special effort to meet with every parent/guardian and will offer advice and support throughout each student’s time at school.

‘Students and parents commented positively on these
interventions and the recognition of students’ efforts’
DES Whole-school Evaluation 2012


Beyond the Classroom - School Life


We believe that school years offer an opportunity for each student to explore and develop their talents and interests.  In addition to providing opportunities for students to excel in their studies, at Carlow Vocational School we also encourage all our students to participate
in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, groups and events. These provide excellent, supervised opportunities for recreation, and also opportunities to develop team-working, problem-solving and communication skills, whilst furthering friendships and having fun!     

‘Initiatives such as Breakfast Club, lunch time activities,
after-school activities, the transition year programme,
the leadership programme and some appropriate gender-
focused personal development lessons help build a notable
sense of community within the school and enhance student-
teacher and student-student relationships.’
DEIS Inspectorate 2010


Student Council

Carlow Vocational School has a dynamic student council that reports biannually to the school’s board of management. All years are represented by the council and add to the life of the school.


Lunchtime and after-school clubs

At Carlow Vocational School, staff and students organise a wide range of lunchtime and after-school clubs.  Students can participate in supervised, fun group activities including:

  • Arts and Crafts

  • Beauty Therapy

  • Breakfast Club

  • Chess Club

  • Choir

  • Computer Club

  • Engineering projects

  • Games

  • Garden Projects

  • Homework Clubs

  • Music and Performing Arts Academy

  • Sports

  • Local and Community Projects

Trips and Visits

Each year we organise a wide range of trips and visits, all of which are designed to enhance the curriculum and personal development of our students. These trips and visits include theatre shows, visits to cultural events, Dáil Éireann, outdoor activity centres, the zoo, and seasonal events including ice-skating. We work to ensure that the
events are as affordable as possible and that all students have the opportunity to participate in them.


Music and Performing Arts

Carlow Vocational School has a fantastic tradition of Music and Performing Arts activities and groups. Students can take part in bands, traditional Irish music groups, the school choir and our special Performing Arts Academy that includes tuition in rock music and singing/dance.


Carlow Vocational School has a long tradition of involvement in sports and sporting activities. Our students have received many highly acclaimed awards in various sports over the years. In addition to PE, all students are encouraged to participate in the additional sporting activities on offer within the school in order to promote fitness, team spirit and a healthy competitiveness. You can take part in lunchtime teams including

  • Athletics

  • Basketball

  • Boxing

  • Gaelic Football

  • Camogie

  • Hurling

  • Rugby

  • Soccer

  • Volleyball





Principal and Deputy Principals

Ms Markita Mulvey

BA, H.Dip.Ed,
M Ed. (Management)

Deputy Principal
Dr Nigel Quirke-Bolt
B Ed. B Sc. PGDCCI. M Sc.
MA(Ed). Ed D

Deputy Principal
Mr David Forde

BA Music (Hons). H.Dip.Ed
MA Lifelong Learning