Pre-School Admissions Guide

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

School Age

If your child is born on or between 2 July 2018 and 1 July 2019 they will be in their final pre-school year (Target Age) for the school year September 2022 to June 2023You can apply for a funded pre-school place in a Nursery School or Nursery Unit in a Primary School or a Voluntary/Private Playgroup participating in the Pre-School Education Programme.

If you apply for your child who is underage born on or between 2 July 2019 and 1 July 2020 underage children may only be admitted after target age children are admitted and funded places remain. You can only apply to a Nursery School or Nursery Unit in a Primary School.  Underage applications are not processed until Stage 2 of the admissions procedure – see further information under the Pre-School Admissions Guide below.

Key Dates

For information on the key dates of the admissions process for Pre-School Admissions, visit our Important Dates for your Diary page using the link above.

How to Apply for a Pre-School Place

The online application process for admission to pre-school in September 2022 has now closed.

If your child is target pre-school age (born on between 2 July 2018 and 1 July 2019) or if your child is penultimate age (born on or between 2 July 2019 and 1 July 2020) and you wish to apply for a funded place you can still submit an application directly to a pre-school provider. See our Placement Notification information for more details. (If your child is of penultimate age you can only apply to a Nursery School/Nursery Unit).

If you require information about Deferring School Starting Age, including how to submit a request to defer or how to apply for a pre-school funded place where you have already requested to defer, you can find information here.

Admissions Criteria

All schools/playgroups have admissions criteria. If they get more applications than they have places available, they use these criteria to decide who to offer places to.

Before starting to complete your child’s application you should read carefully the admissions criteria for each pre-school / primary school that you wish to nominate as a preference. 

You should complete your application providing all the relevant details about how your child meets the pre-schools/schools admissions criteria.

Pre-School Preferences

When making an application it is recommended that you should list at least four pre-schools in the order of your preference, as there is no guarantee your child will be accepted into the first preference. 

You can list up to six preferences on your online application. If you wish to list more than six preferences you should email the additional preference and reasons for preference to the Education Authority at clearly stating your child’s details.

Please note that you cannot list the same preferences more than once. The only exception to this is if you wish to apply for a nursery school or nursery unit which offers both Full-Time (FT) and Part-Time (PT) provision, in which case, you will need to list the pre-school provider twice, in your order of preference, if you want the provider to consider your application for both Full-Time and Part-Time. 

During Stage 2 of the Pre-School Admissions procedure check the list of funded places available.

Socially Disadvantaged Circumstances

Legislation requires pre-school providers to give priority to children in their final pre-school year who are from socially disadvantaged circumstances.

The Department of Education has defined socially disadvantaged circumstances as applying to a child whose parent is in receipt of any of the following benefits:- 

  • Income Support; or
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; or
  • An award of Income Support which has been converted into an Employment and Support Allowance and the level of benefit remains the same; or
  • Universal Credit.

Note:  Tax Credits are not a defined benefit under the socially disadvantaged criterion when applying for a funded pre-school place.

If you are in receipt of any of these benefits you must provide verification.  When you complete a pre-school application you will be asked to tick the benefit you are in receipt of.

A parent in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) will be able to upload their most recent online statement UC payment screen showing they are currently in receipt of UC. 

For a parent in receipt of Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or an award of Income Support which has been converted into ESA and the level of benefit remains the same the Education Authority will send your benefit details from your pre-school application form to the Department for Communities (DfC) to be verified.  The EA will advise your pre-school of first preference if verified or not verified. 

Full Pre-School Admissions Guide

Contact Pre-School Admissions

For further information and guidance you can contact the Pre-School Admissions team on;

Admissions Helpdesk 028 9598 5595

Last updated: 05/07/2022