Applying for a school place

Every child aged between four and 16 is entitled to a school place. If your child is eligible for primary or post-primary school, you must apply for their place. They aren’t guaranteed a place in a particular school. It's important to apply for a school place by the closing date.

School admissions criteria

Before you submit your child's application via the online portal, you should read the school's admissions criteria. If a school gets more applications than their available places, the Board of Governors will apply their published admissions criteria to decide which children get offered places.

Applying for a pre-school place

If your child is eligible for pre-school education, you can apply online in January.

Applying for a primary school place

If you are applying for a first year place at a primary school, you can apply online in January. 

You need to list at least four primary schools you prefer. In areas where schools get more applications than places they have available, you might need to list more than four primary schools. 

You can use the search tool on the Education Authority website to find schools in your area. You must apply before the closing date or your child mightn't get a place in their preferred school.

When you're concerned about your child starting school

If you think your child would need help to adjust to primary school, contact the principal in the school where you want your child to go.

To read guidance about a child reaching school starting age, go to:

Applying to post-primary schools

When your child is in Year 6 at primary school, you'll get an information leaflet about the Transfer process to post-primary schools.  Children with a statement of special educational needs are placed through a different process by the Education Authority (EA) and do not transfer via the competitive process.

For information about applying to a post-primary school in 2021, go to:

Changing schools

If you move house and need to change your child's school, contact the Education Authority for more information. You should do this before you move as some schools might be full.

Appealing a decision

If your child doesn't get a place in a school of your choice because you feel the school didn't apply it's admissions criteria, or did not apply it's criteria correctly, you have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel. 

The tribunal only considers evidence made available to the school/Board of Governors at the time the decision was made and no additional evidence will be considered by the tribunal.  There is a closing date when appeal applications can be submitted to the EA and these dates will be available on the EA website.

For post-primary admissions , parents can also apply to the independent Exceptional Circumstances Body (ECB) if they believe there are compelling reasons why their child must go to a particular post-primary school.

You can only apply to the ECB if your child's application for a post-primary place was unsuccessful and there are exceptional reasons why they should go to a particular school. There is no closing date for applications to the ECB.

Exceptional reasons

The ECB process is only for parents who think there are exceptional reasons why their child must go to a particular school. The ECB process operates for post-primary applications ONLY.

You can only claim exceptional reasons if you applied to a post-primary school through the admissions process and your child was refused a place.

To read more information about appeals, go to:

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