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Private Schools for Expats in Ireland

Submitted: October 2014

There are generally two kinds of private schools in Ireland: Irish private schools and International schools. Irish private schools teach the Irish curriculum, aiming to educate the children to the level required for entry into university. International schools tend to educate to standards such as GCSE (UK), PSAT (USA) and the International Baccalaureate. This article is only concerned with Irish private schools. There is a surprisingly small number of private schools in Ireland in comparison to other countries in Europe. Most are to be found in the major cities.

Ireland also has a number of grind schools. These are the equivalent of what used to be called crammers in the UK and are generally attended for one year by children topping up their education prior to taking the Leaving Certificate exam, or who have failed to get the necessary Leaving Certificate grades to allow them to enter higher education. They are generally attended after normal school hours, though some are full time. Fees are generally priced per subject. There is a website for one of these schools here, which gives a good overview of what a grind school is all about.
From the age of 3, children may attend a pre-school, which is a traditional kindergarten. Primary (first-level) education (Bunscoil) lasts between the ages of about 5 and 13, though children may attend from the age of 4. Around 90% of primary schools are Roman Catholic. Primary schooling is divided into two stages:

There is a useful list of private primary schools in Ireland here, though some of the links are out of date.
After the end of primary school, students will move on to secondary (second-level) education (Meánscoil). This lasts between the ages of about 13 to 18 and is divided into three stages:

There is a useful list of suitable private secondary schools in Ireland here; note that some of the information is in Spanish.

Entry into higher education is decided on a points system based on the best six results achieved in the Leaving Certificate examinations. Individual universities and colleges will have different points requirements for the courses that they offer. There is a calculator here which converts exam results into points. The level of fees varies from school to school but can be as high as €20,000 per year on a full boarding basis.  Each school has its own registration requirements and may charge registration fees.

The first term of the school year generally begins in on or around 1 September, and the school year ends at the end of June. There are holidays for Christmas and Easter, and half term breaks as well. Expats should be aware that some or all tuition at some state schools is conducted in Irish, so unless your child is fluent or near fluent in Irish, or very young, placing them into these schools may cause some problems.




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