Pre-school education places for September 2019

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 2015 and 1 July 2016 are eligible for pre-school education places starting in September 2019. 

When to apply for a pre-school education place

Online applications closed on 31 January 2019 in the pre-school admissions process.  If you missed the deadline, you can still send in a late application.  More information is given below. 

When a child is offered a place

If your child is offered a pre-school education place, the setting will write to you by Friday 10 May 2019.

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 by Friday 10 May 2019.  They'll ask you to list further preferences by 16 May 2019 for pre-school settings that still have places available.

Late applications for pre-school places

Applications for pre-school places received by the closing date are considered first. You can make a late application using a paper form for a pre-school school place until:

  • 4.00 pm on Monday 25 March 2019

If you are making a late application, you need to contact your local pre-school to complete a paper application form. You need to return your completed late application to your first preference pre-school as soon as possible and by the deadline.

Your child isn’t guaranteed a place in your first preference pre-school setting, so you should select at least four settings.

If you do not send in your late application by the deadline of 25 March 2019, your child will not be considered for a place until the admissions procedure closes at the start of May 2019. By this date, many pre-schools/ primary schools will have filled all available places for September 2019.

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. 

Your child’s birth certificate and other documents

After you apply, you’ll need to give your child’s birth certificate to your first preference pre-school setting. Some settings might ask for other supporting documents. They'll tell you about these in their published admissions information.  You must give your child’s original birth certificate and any other supporting documents to the pre-school by:

  • 12.00 noon on Friday 8 February 2019 and 16.00 pm on Monday 25 March for late applications

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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