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Parenting & Education

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Frequently Asked Questions about Enrolling your Child in School

What age should I send my child to school?

It’s hard to generalise on when children should start school as they all develop at different stages. Legally, your child must be at least 4 years of age to start. Once children reach 6 years of age they must attend school.

As a parent, you will know your child best and will be able to gauge whether they are ready to start school at age 4 or 5 years. When deciding when to start, it is also helpful to consider what age they would then be starting and finishing secondary school and will they be one of the younger students in their year group.

Also, take into consideration the school you wish your child to attend. Most schools enforce a cut off date which will only let children who are a certain age by a certain month start school in September of that year.

It’s beneficial for a child to experience preschool before they start 'big' school. The impact on their social development and experiencing a learning environment will give them the tools to become confident pupils in the long run. Introducing them to a school environment like montessori from a young age will help dispel any apprehensions they may have about starting 'big' school.

How do I enrol my child in the local school?

Firstly, research the primary schools available in your area and decide which one suits your needs. You can search here.

The Education (Admission to Schools Act 2018) introduced new rules around admission to primary and secondary schools in Ireland. Arising from this new legislation, all school Boards of Management must publish an annual admission notice before accepting any applications for a given year.

Schools must admit pupils based on their admissions policy and admission notice. Schools will usually open their application process for the following school year sometime in the October of the previous year. Dates may vary in some schools but the school admission policy will set out the dates for the school. Find out more about the Admission Process here.

What do I do if I cannot find a school place for my child?

If you are struggling to find a place for your child in a school, you should contact TUSLA, the Educational Welfare Service for Child & Family. Their contact details for the different regions can be found on

Tel: 01 873 8700

Can my child attend a Catholic School if they are not Catholic?

Over 90% of Irish schools are under the patronage of the Catholic church. Therefore, it is very common for children of non-Catholic backgrounds to attend catholic schools. If your child has been offered a place in a Catholic school and you are don’t wish them to participate in religious studies you should inform the Principal when enrolling your child and discuss how this will be managed within the school.

It is important to thoroughly research schools and know what type of school you are enrolling your child into. There are many">different types of school on offer in Ireland which are explained here.

You might also be interested in this article provided by Education Equality organisation on 'Navigating the Irish education system as a non-religious family'

Will I have to pay school fees?

The vast majority of Primary Schools are state funded and parents do not have to pay tuition fees. Parents / Guardians are responsible for covering the cost of school uniforms, books, tours etc. If you cannot afford the cost of these items then you may be entitled to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear allowance. More information on this here. Most schools will also seek a ‘voluntary contribution’ from parents to help with the costs of running the school.

There are a small number of Private primary schools and parents opting to send their children to these schools will have to pay an annual fee.

Non-Irish nationals including refugees, asylum seekers and children of migrant workers are entitled to the same education rights as other Irish nationals and they must adhere to the same attendance requirements also.