Pre-school education places

The Pre-School Education Programme funds education for children in the year before they start primary school. Pre-school education is available to every child but it's not compulsory. If you want your child to have pre-school education, you need to apply for a place.

Children eligible for pre-school education places

Children born between 2 July 2016 and 1 July 2017 are eligible for pre-school education places starting in September 2020. 

When to apply for a pre-school education place

The Pre-School application procedure opens on Tuesday 7 January 2020 at 12.00 pm.

All applications received on or before 12.00 pm on 30 January 2020 will be treated as 'punctual'. Places are not awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.

Where pre-school education places are provided

Funded pre-school education places are provided in:

  • nursery schools
  • primary schools with nursery units
  • voluntary and private pre-school education settings with government-funded places

All pre-school education settings follow the same Curricular Guidance for Pre-school Education.  Read the guidance at the link below. 

The Education and Training Inspectorate inspects every pre-school setting. Read the inspection reports at the link below. 

Funded pre-school education places

All pre-school places available under the Pre-School Education Programme are funded by the government.  Parents don't pay for these places. 

Admissions criteria for pre-school settings

You should check the admissions criteria for each pre-school education setting that you are considering for your child. In your child’s application, it’s important to show how your child meets the admissions criteria for each pre-school setting.

To read admissions criteria for all pre-school settings, go to:

More information about pre-school places

If you need more information about applying for a pre-school education place, contact:

More useful links

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