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State Schools in Ireland

Submitted: October 2014

State schools in Ireland are funded by the state at all levels. Education is compulsory between the ages of six and sixteen. From the age of three, children may attend a pre-school, which is a traditional nursery or kindergarten. All children are entitled to one year of pre-school funded by the state; there is detailed information regarding this here. Primary (first-level) education (Bunscoil) lasts between the ages of about five and 13, though children may attend from the age of four. Around 90% of primary schools are Roman Catholic. Primary schooling is divided into two stages:

There is a useful search engine for finding a suitable local primary school in Ireland here. 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 search engine for finding a suitable local secondary school in Ireland here. 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.

Generally children attend a school which is near to their home. It is possible to arrange for enrolment at a school elsewhere if this is more convenient. In order to register a child for school, you should go the school or contact them. Some schools are oversubscribed, so you may have to put your child on a waiting list. Each school has its own registration requirements.

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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