Tips for enrolling your child in school in Ireland

Choice of Schools

If you are moving to a well-populated area in Ireland you won't have any problems finding a selection of schools to choose from for your child to attend. However, finding the right one, or the best one, is a little more challenging.

If you know where you'll be living when you move to Ireland, then I suggest you use that information and go online to schooldays.ie. If you have primary/elementary school age children I suggest going straight to the Find Primary Schools in Ireland by County page. For older kids who'll be attending high school (or secondary school as we call it in Ireland) go to the page for that. From there, you'll be able to navigate to the school that you're interested in

There is some incredibly useful information on the school profile pages. Here's an example of the kind of information that is available.

For Primary schools:

  • Contact info
  • Principal's name
  • Ethos
  • Number of children enrolled
  • School inspection reports
    • Some of the inspection reports on the site are a few years old but they are very worthwhile reading and will give you a general idea of the quality of the school. The few that I read were very detailed and covered a lot of topics. If one is available for your chosen school, it'd be a good idea to read it.

For secondary schools:

  • Contact info
  • Principal's name
  • Ethos
  • Number of children enrolled
  • School inspection reports (by subject and overall)
  • College progression stats (very important!)

If you choose to make use of the information on this website take a quick read also of how and where they get their stats. It'll give you a clearer picture.

Also, there is plenty of other topics covered on that website: Gaelscoileanna (Irish speaking schools), Educate Together schools, Special Needs information, Independent Fee Paying schools, Home Education, Pre-Schools, articles on bullying (every parent should read these), parent resources, teacher resources & more. A truly great resource!

Frustrating

Having decided to move back to Ireland, one of the major considerations I had to make was what school to send my own child to. I had a good idea (based on where we wanted to live), so started getting in touch with the schools in that general area. (I did this mostly via email, but I recommend calling them if you can.) What I found to be very frustrating was that each school I called mentioned that there was a 'waiting list', and it would be some time before they would know if my child would have a place. Trying to get to the bottom of what this waiting list meant, I found out that it is very common now in Ireland, that as soon as a child is born the parent's register them at the local school (and often times at a few schools). This creates a huge list of names that the school staff must trawl through each year and find out if the parent's still want the child to attend that school. To me it seemed like such a terrible system. It would make more sense to me to have a week each year where the parents who are really serious about their child attending, register them at that time, and not 5 or 6 years in advance. The way it is now, it seems to cause unnecessary work for the school, and stress for the parents of kids who are way down the list. But that's how it's done. Not everything about Ireland is perfect 🙂

Registration details

When registering, the school will ask you for details about your child. I needed birth certificates and a filled in, very basic, application form. It's probably likely that most schools ask for similar information. This was for primary school. (note: if someone has information about registering secondary school kids and would like to contribute, please get in touch)

If you're not sure that you're child will get a place at your first choice school, I would recommend applying to more than one. You don't want the school year to start and then have to start scrambling for a place. And (unless the Irish way of registration changes), register any non-school age kids you have too.

Free ECCE Scheme for pre-schoolers

"The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides a free year of early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. In general, children are eligible for the ECCE scheme if they are aged over 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months on 1 September of the year that they will be starting. The upper age limit can be extended in some cases." source citizensinformation.ie

I am currently availing of this program for my younger child. It is a wonderful thing that every young child in Ireland has an equal opportunity, regardless of their family's financial situation, to attend pre-school. I can't be certain that all pre-school's offer this free year, but from what I've seen most do.

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