Census at School: Boys miles ahead in cycling to school

Boys are nearly 10 times more likely than girls to cycle to school, a national survey suggests.

The Census at School project has revealed that boys in Ireland are almost 10 times more likely to cycle to school than girls

Less than 1% of female students who took part in the Census at School project said they get to school by bicycle, compared to 8% of boys.

The figures emerge from the informal study at 169 second-level schools carried out during the last school year.

It showed that 44% of almost 4,200 students who took part get a lift or drive themselves to school.

Bus was the next most common transport method, taken by 27% of those taking part in the survey, followed by 20% who walk to school.

The Central Statistics Office, which compiled the data from answers filled in online at schools, stresses that the results should not be relied on as references for the overall second-level population.

The survey is entirely voluntary and is not part of a representative sampling process, with participation ranging between different counties from less than 0.5% to over 2% of students.

Overall, the 4,199 students who took part last year account for just over 1% of all 380,000 attending second-level.

However, the headline figures suggest they give a reasonably good snapshot of students nationally, as they are quite close to those given in response to questions about travel to school in the 2011 Census. At that time, 42% of second-level students were said to get to school by car, 30% went by bus and 23% walked.

The 2016 Census at School data show just 4% of students cycle to school, but this is skewed by the fact that one-in-10 Dublin students did so.

In the 2011 Census, only 2% of students were shown to cycle to school.

Cycling is the one mode of transport in which there is a big difference between girls and boys.

The genders answered the survey in almost equal numbers, but only 18 girls cycled to school, compared to 172 boys.

There were also strong regional variations between students and how they got to school, with those living in the capital least likely to travel by car.

Only one-third of Dublin students did so, compared to the 60% of those at Limerick schools.

Of 1,380 Dublin participants in Census at School, 29% said they usually walk to and from classes, but the figure was slightly higher in Wicklow at 30%.

Just 6% of the 144 Co Laois students walk, but just over half of them got to school by bus, suggesting they have greater distances to travel than those in most other counties.

Younger students emerge as slightly more likely to go to school by car, but the proportion rises for sixth-year students.

Although only 45 sixth-years took part in Census at School, making it too small to be nationally representative, it may indicate older students driving themselves.

The 2011 national census revealed a spike in students driving to college, being the travel method used by 28% of those attending third-level, up from 22% in 2006.

Irish mostly unspoken outside school

Of those students who speak Irish, nearly two-thirds never use the language outside of school.

However, one-in-five speak Irish at least once a week, including 7% of all Irish speakers who use it on a daily basis.

Of those students who answered a question about the language, nearly 70% said they speak it.

The Irish speakers who do not talk in Irish outside school include 45% of those who attend all-Irish schools in non-Gaeltacht areas.

This is practically identical to the figure for students of English-medium schools.

More boys than girls shunned sport

The number of boys who took part in no sporting activity in the previous year was higher than for girls, 26% compared to 22%.

Around one-third of students of both genders had played up to three different sports, but females played a wider range of sports. The Census at School participants were asked to name a sport they had taken part in over the past year. Close to one-third of girls and boys had played one, two or three sports.

But 21% of girls and just 17% of boys had been involved in four to six different sports. Boys were more likely to play more than 10 sports, but the proportions of students and the gap were much smaller and the gap smaller — 14% to 12%. A similar topic in the 2012 Census at School survey showed the most popular activities among second-level students were soccer, Gaelic football, basketball, hurling and dance.

Social Media: YouTube tops teens’ favourite sites

YouTube and Snapchat are the two most popular websites and apps used by Irish teenagers.

More than half of all students who took part in Census at School 2016 said they use at least one of the four most popular apps and social networks — YouTube (69%), Snapchat (63%), Instagram (69%) and Facebook (52%).

More girls use Snapchat (70%, versus 56% of boys), and Instagram (68% v 50%).

The corresponding survey in 2015 found the average second-level student sent over 30 text messages a day. Other popular apps used by the most recent participants include Messenger (used by almost half of students); Viber (nearly half of girls but 37% of boys); and WhatsApp used by a third of students.

A similar proportion use Google+ but barely one-in-four are Twitter users. Girls are more likely than boys to use Pinterest and Tumblr.

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