Planning and preparing
All parents need to apply for their child's school place. Even if your child's current primary or nursery school is linked to the school you want them to go to, you won't get a place unless you apply.
Finding a school for your child
You can use the Education Authority's search tool to find nursery, primary and post-primary schools in your area.
Once you know which schools are near you, get as much information as you can about them.
For example, you could
- visit the schools
- read the schools' brochures
- read the schools' most recent inspection reports
Applying for a school place
Once you have a list of preferred schools, you should apply for your child's place.
Before submitting your application, it's important to read the school's admissions criteria. Different schools have different criteria.
If the school you're interested in is popular, the admissions criteria will help you understand how the school fills their school places.
Closing dates for school applications
Applications for school places close on certain dates. You should send your application form in plenty of time.
When you’ll find out the results
The EA sends decision letters to parents about primary school places in April. They send letters to parents about post-primary school places in May.
Appealing a school place decision
Sometimes schools don't have enough places for the number of children who apply. If your child doesn't get a place at the school you prefer, you can appeal if you think the school didn't apply their published admissions criteria.
For post-primary admissions decisions, parents can also appeal to the independent Exceptional Circumstances Body if they believe that there are compelling reasons why their child must go to a particular post-primary school.
A claim of exceptional circumstances can only be considered after you have applied to the post-primary school through the normal admissions process and been refused a place.
Funded pre-school education places
Pre-school education places are available in nursery schools, primary schools with nursery units and voluntary, private settings that have funded places. All pre-school education providers follow the same Curricular Guidance for pre-school education and are regularly inspected by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI).
To read about how you can help your child start learning, go to: