Admissions criteria for Pre-schools will be published on Tuesday 12 December 2023.
Pre-school Applications for school year beginning September 2024 will open on Tuesday 9 January 2024 at 12 noon.
Special Educational Needs
If your child is undergoing statutory assessment, you still need to apply for a Pre-School place.
However, you should not complete an application if your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs. Your child’s placement will be arranged through the EA’s Special Educational Needs Department.
If your child is born on or between 2 July 2020 and 1 July 2021 they will be in their final pre-school year (Target Age) for the school year September 2024 to June 2025.
If your child is born on or between 1 April 2020 and 1 July 2020; OR if your child is born before 1 April 2020 but due to be born on or after 1 April 2020 if born at term; and you have submitted a request to defer your child from starting P1 in September 2024 you can apply for a pre-school place for September 2024. See information on Deferral of School Starting Age.
If your child is born on or between 2 July 2021 and 1 July 2022 your child will be underage for the school year September 2024 to June 2025.
If your child is born on or between 1 April 2021 and 1 July 2021; OR if your child is born before 1 April 2021 but due to be born on or after 1 April 2021 if born at term; and you have submitted a request to defer your child from starting P1 until September 2026 you can apply for a pre-school (underage) place for September 2024 in a Nursery School, Primary School Nursery Unit. See information on Deferral of School Starting Age.
Online applications will open at 12 noon on Tuesday 9 January 2024 and will close at 12 noon on Friday 26 January 2024.
Before starting your child’s application you should:
- Read carefully the admissions criteria for each Pre-school that you wish to nominate as a preference.
- All schools will require the birth certificate to verify a child’s name and date of birth. Either a full (long) or short birth certificate may be used or an amended birth certificate or an adoption certificate, where appropriate, is acceptable. If you do not have a copy of your child’s birth certificate, please contact the schools you wish to nominate to see what other documents they may accept.
- You should refer to the admissions criteria to find out if other supporting documents are required by each of the schools you have chosen e.g. proof of address.
- You can scan or take a photo of the documents you require for each school and save them on the device you will be using to make your Pre-school Application. Make sure the photos or scans are clear and legible.
- For GDPR purposes you should remove personal/sensitive/private information from your documents before uploading e.g. financial details in bank statements.
- You will require an email address to be able to register on EA Connect to submit an application.
Tuesday 12 December 2023
Admissions criteria for Pre-schools published on the EA website.
Tuesday 9 January 2024 – at 12 noon
EA Connect opens for online applications for pre-school, submitting verification/supporting documents.
Friday 26 January 2024 – at 12 noon
EA Connect closes for online punctual applications for pre-school.
Wednesday 31 January 2024 – by 4pm
Deadline for submitting verification/supporting documents via EA Connect. Final date for late applications.
Thursday 25 April 2024
Notification of (Stage 1) outcome for Target Age application via email where one is held or by letter.
Tuesday 11 June 2024
Notification of (Stage 2) outcome (includes Underage application) via email where one is held or by letter.
Use the ‘Search Schools’ tool below to search for Pre-schools in your area and read or download their admissions criteria.
When you find a pre-school under ‘Search Schools’, write down the name of the pre-school and location as some pre-schools have similar names e.g. St Mary’s PS NU, Omagh, St Mary’s PS NU, Banbridge, Little Acorns PG (Coleraine), Little Acorns PG (Derrymore); Little Acorns PG (Derrynoose), etc. This will help when you are completing the application.
Any abbreviations within a pre-school provider’s name or referred to in this website and on EA Connect are as follows:-
- PG = Playgroup
- FT = Full-time
- PT = Part-time
- PS NU = Primary School Nursery Unit
- NS = Nursery School
Other sources of information which may be useful to you include:
- Pre-school websites
- Pre-school virtual opening day/evenings
- Pre-school prospectus
- ETI Inspection Reports
- Annual Area Profiles
- Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education
- Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta
- Early Years Organisation
- Family Support NI
All schools have published admissions criteria. If they receive more applications than they have places available, the pre-school setting will use their published criteria to decide who to offer places to.
Before starting to complete your child’s application you should read carefully the published admissions criteria for each pre-school setting that you wish to nominate as a preference.
You should complete your application providing all the relevant details/preference reasons about how your child meets the schools’ admissions criteria.
When making an application it is recommended that you list at least four schools in the order of your preference, as there is no guarantee your child will be accepted into the first preference.
Please note that you cannot list the same preferences more than once. The only exception where you can list a school twice in your order of preference is if you wish to apply for a pre-school funded place in a nursery school or nursery unit which offers both Full-Time (FT) and Part-Time (PT) provision;
EA Connect will alert you if a pre-school setting offers both full-time and part-time in their setting.
If your child’s application is not selected by your first preference school it will then be considered by your second preference school. The process will be repeated until a place has been allocated or all preferences you have listed have considered your application. Places will be allocated to those who best meet the admissions criteria for each pre-school setting.
Any queries on the content of a pre-school’s published admissions criteria should be directed to the pre-school setting.
Parents have the right to express preferences for the schools they would like their child to attend, but no child can be guaranteed a place in any school. Therefore, it is recommended that you list at least 4 preferences on your application.
Please note you cannot list the same preference more than once. The only exception where you can list a school twice in your order of preference is if you wish to apply for a pre-school funded place in a nursery school or nursery unit which offers both Full-Time (FT) and Part-Time (PT) provision.
EA Connect will alert you if a pre-school offers both full-time and part-time in their setting.
The first school you list will consider your application. If they are unable to offer a place the application will then go to your second preference school and so on until a school is able to offer a place or the list is exhausted.
It is extremely important that you provide all relevant details on your application as this information will be used by individual pre-schools to determine which children will be selected for admission.
All Pre-school settings will require a birth certificate to verify a child’s name and date of birth. Either a full (long) or short birth certificate may be used. An amended birth certificate or an adoption certificate, where appropriate, is acceptable. If a birth certificate is not available you should contact the Pre-school provider to determine what alternatives may be acceptable e.g., a biometric card, passport, medical card etc.
Legislation requires pre-school providers to give priority to children in their final pre-school year who are from SDC. The benefits as defined by the Department of Education entitling parents to claim SDC are:
- Income Support; or
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; or
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance; or
- Universal Credit.
If you have an entitlement to any of these benefits tick the box to confirm, when completing the application. You must provide verification to show an entitlement to the benefit.
The 3 listed benefits below require a Proof of Benefit Letter which you can access by clicking this link:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
This letter will be posted to you within approximately 5 working days which you must upload to EA Connect before 4pm on Wednesday 31 January 2024:-
- UNIVERSAL CREDIT
If you have an entitlement to Universal Credit (UC), you DO NOT request a Proof of Benefit Letter as above. Please follow the steps below to access your most recent UC statement just prior to or when completing the application.
- Sign into your Universal Credit account
- Follow through to Payments. Under Statements - View Statement by Pay Date.
- Click on the link for the most up-to-date payment date showing you have an entitlement to UC.
- Take a clear photo image or download your UC payment screens that shows an entitlement to the benefit. Claimant details, relevant dates and entitlement information should be shown in the image.
If you are unable to access digital services, and have an entitlement to any of the above benefits, you can request a proof of benefit letter or request help with universal credit statement by contacting one of the following::
Employment Support Allowance - 0800 587 1377
Income Support – 0800 022 4250
Jobseekers allowance - 0800 022 4250
Universal Credit - 0300 200 7822
Upload the proof of Benefit letter/Universal Credit Statement when you apply online for a funded pre-school place for your child by taking a clear photo image of the letter.
Note: Tax Credits, Pension Credit and State Pension are not a defined benefit under the socially disadvantaged criterion when applying for a funded pre-school place.
Check the admissions criteria for each of the schools you have listed as some schools ask for additional documentation such as proof of address and/or proof of eldest child. This documentation may be requested at the time of application, during the process or at the notification of placement. If verifying documents are being requested at the time of application you will need to upload the information on EA Connect for all school choices.
If you do not supply the documents requested this could lead to the inability of a school to offer a place to your child or the withdrawal of an offer of a place.
If a school has asked for documents which you do not have, or if it is unclear what type of documents are needed, you should email or phone the school directly to find out what they will accept as it can vary from school to school.
Stage 1 - Thursday 25 April 2024
If you submitted a Target Age Pre-school application on EA Connect you will receive an email notification to the address you registered with. The email will provide you with basic details on the outcome of your child’s application. For more detailed information you can log in to EA Connect on the same date.
Applicants who submitted a Target Age Pre-school paper application will either be advised of the outcome by email (if supplied on form) or by letter.
Stage 2 – Tuesday 11 June 2024
Outcome of application processed in Stage 2 (includes Underage applications). More information will be available at the time.
The closing date for punctual Pre-school applications is 12 noon on Friday 26 January 2024. An application received after 12 noon on 26 January 2024 and by 4pm on 31 January 2024 will be treated as a late application.
Having a late application could reduce your child’s likelihood of gaining a place in your preferred pre-school i.e., should the pre-school you are applying to receive more applications than it has places available it will firstly consider all punctual applications (including second and subsequent preference applications) before your application is considered.
A limited number of primary schools have a Reception class/group for children who are aged four at the date of their admission but who are not yet compulsory school age (i.e. children whose fourth birthday is after 1 July in a year).
Children in Reception classes do not follow the primary one element of the Northern Ireland curriculum and cannot be admitted until they reach their fourth birthday.
Children who are not of compulsory school age will only be selected for admission after all children of compulsory school age have been allocated a place.
Click on the button below to download the list of schools which have a Reception class. If a Primary school has a Reception class this will be included in the school’s published admissions criteria.
EA Connect will open for applications at 12 noon on Tuesday 9 January 2024 and will close at 12 noon on Friday 26 January 2024. Please see information above on Applying for a Pre-school place.
Contact the Primary Admissions Office, if you are unable to complete your Reception application on EA Connect.
Tel: Admissions Helpdesk 028 9598 5595
Yes, you can apply for both a Pre-School funded and Reception place online on EA Connect.
You will need to complete two different applications.