Primary Schools Admission Guide

Our guide will help you understand more about the process and what to expect when applying for a place in primary school for your child.

General information

What does compulsory school age mean?

All children who are four years old on or before the 1st July must begin their primary education from the beginning of the school year following their 4th birthday.

Do I have to complete an application?

Yes, if your child is compulsory school age then you need to complete an application

Duplicate applications

You can only make one application for your child. Otherwise you will have made a false declaration.  In the event that parents are discovered to have lodged more than one application for a child, then the first application lodged will normally be treated as the formal expression of parental preference and all other applications will not be considered.

Parents disagree on which schools to apply to/priority order for preferences

In cases where parents cannot agree on the preferences for their child, they should endeavour to do so as soon as possible to minimise the risk of their child being unplaced. If mutual agreement is not possible ultimately you may need to obtain a Specific Issues Order from the court.

If you require further advice you should contact the Education Authority.

Can a child be held back?

There is no legislative provision for deferring the normal age of starting primary school and as your child is compulsory school age then he/she is due to attend Primary 1 unless he/she has a statement of special educational needs that says the child should remain in a pre-school setting.

Should you feel that your child is not ready to attend Primary 1 you should read the information available in this document School Starting Age: A Guide for Parents

Children with Special Educational Needs  

If your child is undergoing statutory assessment you still need to apply for a Primary 1 place.  This will ensure your child secures a place in the event that the statutory process determines that your child does not require a statement. If/when your child's statement is put in place, the application you submit will become null and void.

Child with Statement of Special Educational Needs

If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs then the arrangements detailed here do not apply.   You should contact the Education Authority’s Special Education Section for advice regarding the process of applying for a Primary 1 place for your child.

Deciding on preferences – other sources of information

Other sources for this information include:

NB There are no league tables published for NI schools

School Open Days/Evenings

Dates and time may be published in the admissions criteria, local newspaper or you can also directly ask the provider or school.

Admission statistics

Three years annual application and admission statistics for primary one are published along with the admission criteria and in the schools' prospectuses.  

One year's information is published in the Annual Area Profiles.

Applying for Preparatory and Independent Schools

For information on application to Preparatory Schools and Independent Schools you should contact the schools directly.

Admissions Helpdesk

If additional information is required or any difficulty is experienced, parents can contact the admissions helpdesk on:

028 9598 5595

Helpline open from 9am to 5pm

or email the relevant address listed below

Do you know that your choice and order of preferences could impact on your child’s eligibility for transport assistance?

Last updated: 01/02/2019