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

If your child was born between 2 July 2015 and 1 July 2016, you can apply for their pre-school education place starting in September 2019. You can apply online from 2 January 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. 

How to apply for a pre-school place

You can apply online for your child’s place. Applications close at midnight on 31 January.

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

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

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:

Using an application form for a pre-school place

If you can’t apply online, you can use an application form. Application forms are  available in pre-school settings.

When a child is offered a place

If your child is offered a pre-school education place, the pre-school 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 for pre-school settings that still have places available.

More information about pre-school places

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

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