Post-Primary Admissions Guide

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

Getting ready to Apply

The number of places each post-primary school has available in Year 8, i.e. the Admissions Number, can be viewed at the top right of each school’s 2021/22 criteria document.  The admissions number for schools is decided by the Department of Education.

You should ask schools directly for clarification if you are not sure what something in their criteria means before applying, as this might influence your decision in terms of which schools to apply to and in what order to list your preferences.  It is also important that you fully understand what information or documentation you will need to include or upload to support your child’s application.  Any supporting documents in addition to your child’s birth certificate that might be required by any of your listed preferences will be mentioned by a school in their published admissions criteria.

Due to the cancellation of transfer tests the admissions criteria for many grammar schools are different this year.  Some schools indicate in the criteria that they will give priority to children who had been registered to sit tests and a small number of schools plan to use another form of academic selection. If you are claiming special circumstances or special provisions you should read very carefully the requirements set out in the admissions criteria of each particular school to determine if and how they may apply to your child.

When completing the application you will need to ensure you include all the relevant information about how your child meets the criteria of each school you choose, as this is what schools will use when applying criteria and making decisions on which children are offered places.  You will also need to upload your child’s birth certificate and any other documents requested by the criteria of each school you are applying to with your child’s online application.  Please take time now to get ready all the documents that you will need.  Save your documents on your tablet, computer or phone where you can access them easily e.g. a redacted bank statement or utility bill as proof of address, a copy of a registration letter or card or a letter from your primary school to indicate your child is the eldest child.

You can start to get ready to apply by:

  • Considering which schools you may wish to apply for. It is strongly recommended that you list at least four schools in your order of preference.  Please note that some schools give priority to applicants who have listed the school as first preference.
  • Reading the admissions criteria and considering how well your child meets them. Read the definitions set out in criteria carefully and note that terms may differ in meaning from school to school.  For example, many schools prioritise applicants who are the eldest child of the family.  For some schools this definition may be extended include other circumstances where a family has not, in the opinion of the Board of Governors, had the opportunity to have an elder child already and currently enrolled, such as,  cases where an older sibling cannot attend mainstream school and attends a special school.  In this instance, you would be required to explain in your application how your child meets this criterion and you may be required to provide verification documents. The criteria should outline if this is the case.
  • Consider the number of applications each school received and how many pupils have been admitted in previous years. This information is included in the schools’ published admissions criteria document.  If the schools you are applying for are normally oversubscribed you should be aware that there is no guarantee that your child will gain a place in any particular school and you should nominate as many preferences as you feel is appropriate. 
  • Checking whether transport assistance will be available for your child. Transport Eligibility Checker
Last updated: 02/02/2021