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Pre-School Admissions

Pre-School Admissions

Pre-school education is not statutory. It is designed for children in the year immediately before they enter P1, although a limited number of places may be available for younger children in some centres.

Funded pre-school places are available in a range of pre-school centres (providers) including:

  • nursery schools;
  • nursery units in primary schools; and
  • voluntary and private playgroups and day nurseries which are part of the Pre-school Education Programme (these centres may also offer fee paying places to parents).


  • Read all information carefully
  • Step 1: Download and read the guide for parents
  • Step 2: Download and check the places available document
  • Step 3: Check school criteria
  • Step 4: Complete and return an application form if you have not previously submitted one or an additional preferences form if this has been sent to you

Step 1: Read guide for parents

The parents guide provides information on how the admissions procedure operates, how schools select pupils and when you will be informed of the outcome of your application.

Step 2: Download and check the places available document

A list of settings with funded pre-schools places remaining available for September 2017 can be found in the document below.

Note: Each school has a number of reference books for viewing which detail the admissions criteria for all schools in their area. 

Search for School Criteria

Use the search options to find Pre-Schools and their criteria information.  The Keywords search will search for school name or location.  Enter a postcode if you wish to do a mileage range search.

Search Results

  • click on a School name to view full schools details
  • click the School Criteria Document to view school admissions criteria.
  • click back button to return to search results

If you require further help, please contact the appropriate EA admissions office.

Step 3: School Criteria Search

NOTE: if searching for the term 'Mary' type a space in front of it to avoid the total return of primary.

Step 4: Complete application form and forward directly to provider

If you have received a letter advising that your child has not been selected for admission and you now wish to be considered by one of the settings with funded places available, please contact the provider directly as soon as possible. 

Please note some pre-schools operate on a ‘first come first served’ basis when filling vacant places.  If you wish you may also contact any private or voluntary provider of your choice directly with regard to a fee paying place for your child.


The Education and Library Boards (ELBs) were dissolved on 31 March 2015. The Education Authority was established on 01 April 2015 and is now responsible for all of the operational functions previously carried out by the five ELBs in accordance with the Education Orders.

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