School applications and registration procedures

School Admissions Ireland

The Education Act (Admission to Schools Act 2018) introduced new rules regarding admission to primary and secondary schools in Ireland. As a result of this new legislation, all school boards must publish an annual notice of admission before accepting any application for a given year.

Schools must admit students based on their admission policy and admission notice. The notice of admission must tell you:

  • How to Obtain a Copy of the School’s Admissions Policy
  • How to get an admissions application form
  • The date the school will begin accepting applications for the year
  • Deadline for receipt of applications
  • The date on which the school will inform you of its decision
  • The date by which you must accept a place

Schools can no longer use the time and date they receive an application as the basis for admission. This means that applications cannot be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and that schools must phase out existing waiting lists by January 31, 2025. If a school is not oversubscribed, the school must continue to accept all applicants even after this time period has expired. Schools can also no longer charge fees or ask for contributions as a condition of admission with the exception of fee-paying high schools, boarding schools, and PLC courses.

Schools will typically open their application process for the next school year during October of the previous year. Dates may vary at some schools, but the school’s admissions policy will define school dates.

In general, schools must accept all students who apply unless they get more applications than there are places (see exceptions below). The school’s admissions policy will set out the rules that will apply if the school is oversubscribed, which students to accept, and in what order.

Application to schools

In Ireland, all children are entitled to free primary and secondary education, with most schools being publicly funded and most children attending these schools. There are a small number of private primary schools available and some secondary schools and the children who attend these schools will pay fees. Children must be at least 4 years old at the start of the school year to enroll in primary schools and students are usually 12 or 13 when they start secondary school.

You can search for primary and secondary schools in your area by visiting the link buttons below. If you click on individual schools, you will then be able to see information on philosophy, gender, contact details, etc., as well as links to the school’s website and social media pages. For secondary schools, you will also be able to view information about third-tier college progression levels for that school. A map of all schools in Ireland is also available here. You can find more tips on how to select a secondary school here.

When you have identified the schools you are interested in, you should get in touch and request their admissions policy and application dates, as well as an application form, if applicable. Schools may request additional documents such as report cards, birth certificate, and school assessment. However, schools are no longer allowed to request a baptismal certificate as part of an application for registration under the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018. Remember to keep a copy of your application.

You can of course apply to more than one school but you cannot accept more than one place. If you accept an offer from one school and you have applied to one or more other schools, you must inform the school that you are accepting the offer of all offers you have or expect from the other schools to which you have applied. You should also be aware that under the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, school management boards may share information with each other about applications received, offers made and offers accepted.

Offers and acceptances

A school must generally respond within 21 days of its closing date to let you know if your child has been accepted or placed on a waiting list. If you have received an offer, there will usually be a time limit before which you must accept the offer.

For more information on discrimination exceptions and no school places:

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