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 send your child's application to a school, 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 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 EA 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.  

For information about applying to a post-primary school in 2019, 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 their admissions criteria, or did not apply their criteria correctly, you have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel.

For post-primary admissions decisions, 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 failed 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.

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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