Choosing a school for your child

Choosing a school is an important decision you'll make for your child. To help your child's application for a funded pre-school place or the primary or post-primary school you prefer, you must apply on or before the closing date.

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.

School information

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' prospectuses
  • 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.

Admissions criteria

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 its school places.

Closing dates for school applications

Applications for school places close on certain dates.  You should complete your application 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 its 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:

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