On schoolday mornings, it's an early start indeed for Rosie - something she is not used to.

Her primary school was just a short walk away but now that she is in first year, the 13-year-old is out the door with her older sister by 7.15am.

Their school commute involves two buses: The first into Dublin city centre, the second out again - almost in the same direction that they set out from in the first place.

Their school is about 6km away but - Dublin being Dublin - it takes them one-and-a-quarter hours to make the journey by public transport.

Their mother says it can be longer still getting home.

Rosie* and her sister live in Dublin 8, an area that has been chronically neglected in terms of second-level school provision, according to a new study from Maynooth University.

The research has found that far from tackling educational inequality, the State is perpetuating it in this part of the capital by the approach it has taken to the creation of new schools.

More widely, the research finds that city dwelling children in general are getting short-changed compared to their rural cousins when it comes to access to inclusive non-segregated education.

The research finds that the State is perpetuating educational inequality by the approach it has taken to the creation of new schools

While the vast majority (97%) of schools in rural areas are now gender-mixed, that proportion falls to just 40% in the Dublin City Council area.

While across rural Ireland there is one free, mixed-gender and inter-denominational school for every 525 children, figures from 2016 show there was just one such school for every 2,840 children in Dublin City.

In further evidence of the lack of choice for Dublin City children, more than 80% of secondary schools in the capital are segregated by religion and almost 20% are fee-charging.

But the picture becomes even more concerning when the study homes in on two urban areas in Dublin City.

Rosie takes two buses on her journey to school

It finds a significant disparity between State investment in second-level education in the affluent Dublin 4 area compared to the more disadvantaged Dublin 8.

To give one example to illustrate the attainment gap between the two areas, while 99% of children in Dublin 4 go on to higher education, just 28% of children in Dublin 8 do.

One would think that the more disadvantaged area would come out on top when it comes to public investment and that - given all the concern about tackling disadvantage - the State would be investing more heavily in educational provision in these areas.

But this study finds that the opposite is the case. It finds "radically lower" levels of state investment in post-primary education in Dublin 8 compared to Dublin 4 and 6.

The research was carried out by Dr JoAnne Mancini, Associate Professor at Maynooth University’s Department of History and the peer-reviewed study.

Based largely on 2016 data, it shows that in that year the State was funding an overabundance of post-primary school places in the affluent D4 area, with a surplus of 1,857 places compared to the number of 13-18 year olds living there.

However in the more disadvantaged Dublin 8 there was a severe shortage of places with a deficit which left approximately 780 teenagers obliged to travel daily out of their community to attend second-level schools.

And that was before the school that Rosie and her sister attend was opened.

The girls are among this cohort of children who are bearing the brunt of this underinvestment. They are among a group spending an extra 90 hours annually in order to get to school on average. The length of time this group spends exceeds the State average for school commuting by 50%. It even exceeds the average for adult commuters nationwide.

"The school is fantastic, but she gets exhausted and finds the commute really difficult," Rosie’s mother says.

The two girls attend Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School.

The report says planning decisions being made by the Department of Education are serving to exacerbate, rather than remedy, inequality

It was opened as Dublin South City Educate Together Secondary School (DSCETSS) in 2018, partly in order to address the chronic shortage of inclusive post-primary school places in Dublin 8.

The opening of the new school was a watershed moment in many ways.

The report states: "Before the establishment of DSCETSS, the part of Dublin City Council south of the River Liffey lacked a single post-primary school that was exclusively dedicated to the education of children, that taught the full academic curriculum required to matriculate in all university subjects, and that was not segregated by religion, gender, or the ability to pay.

"The opening of DSCETSS thus represented a victory for equal and inclusive education in Dublin."

But the Maynooth study says that victory was "late and partial".

It is highly critical of the Department of Education’s decision to locate the new school on the extreme eastern edge of Dublin 4, at the farthest point away from most of the areas it was supposed to serve, the Dublin postal codes of 2,4, 6 and 8.

Its address says it all: The school is on Beach Road, bordered on one side by the Irish sea.

The location of the school further exacerbated the difficulties faced by families in the Dublin 8 area, the study notes, requiring an up to 8.5km cross-city journey without any direct public transport link for children living there.

The pin marks the location of Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School (Source: Google Maps)

For parents there is also a financial cost. Rosie could get a private bus directly to the school, but that costs €45 per child per week, her mother says.

"The school's chosen location was as socioeconomically exclusive as it was geographically remote," the study notes, and "perpetuated systemic inequality in the provision of education".

The study finds that the State’s investment in inclusive education is "highly unequal"; that children from city areas like Dublin 8 are being denied access to modern inclusive schools, because the kind of new schools now seen in Irish towns and in Dublin’s outer suburban ring - modern multi-denominational purpose-built schools with new buildings and broad curriculums - are simply not being built in their areas.

It says planning decisions being made by the Department of Education are serving to exacerbate, rather than remedy, inequality.

Since 2016 and 2018 more new schools have opened in outer suburbs of the capital. One has opened in Dublin 12 too and some families from Dublin 8 are choosing to send their children there.

But the fundamental issues addressed in this report remain and they affect other urban city cores beyond the capital.

Several years ago, the principal of one disadvantaged single-sex religious run school in Dublin 8 told me of their frustration with what they felt was the crippling stasis of post-primary education within the Dublin city area bounded by the canals.

"We are a modern European capital", this principal said, "but where is our city 'lycée’, where is our school for all?".

That principal could say the same today.

Rosie's name has been changed for this report