Pre-school education places September 2018

The Pre-School Education Programme funds education for children in the year immediately before they start school. Pre-school education is available to every child but it's not compulsory. If you want your child to attend pre-school education in September 2018, you will need to apply.

Children eligible for pre-school education places

If your child was born between 2 July 2014 and 1 July 2015, you can apply for their pre-school education place starting in September 2018. 

Where pre-school education places are available

Funded pre-school education places are available 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. To read the guidance, go to:

The Education and Training Inspectorate inspects every pre-school setting. To read inspection reports, go to:

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. 

How to apply for a pre-school place

To apply for your child's place, you must complete an application form.  You only need to complete one application form. You should select at least three pre-school education settings that you would be happy for your child to attend. 

Application forms and admission criteria for each pre-school  setting are available to download from:

You can also collect an application form in nursery schools, primary schools with a nursery unit and pre-school education settings offering government-funded pre-school education places. 

Admission criteria for pre-school settings

You should check the admission criteria for each pre-school education setting you prefer. When you list the settings you prefer, it is important to show how your child meets the admission criteria for each setting.

Where to send the application form 

You must submit the completed application form to the first preference pre-school setting you listed on the form. You'll need to include your child's birth certificate with the application form. 

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

When to apply for a pre-school education place

Application forms are available from 29 November 2017 for pre-school education places starting in September 2018.  The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon on Wednesday 10 January 2018. 

When a pre-school education setting applies admission criteria

If a pre-school education setting receives more applications than they have funded places, they must apply their admission criteria when offering places to children. 

When a child is offered a place

If your child is offered a pre-school education place, the setting will write to you on 26 April 2018.

When a child isn't offered a place

If you apply on time but your child isn't offered a place, the Education Authority will write to you on 26 April 2018.  They'll ask you to list further preferences for pre-school settings that still have places available.

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