Applying for a Pre-school Place

Information on making a Pre-school application.

The EA Connect Portal is now closed for Pre-School Stage 2 applications.

The outcome of an application processed in Stage 2 will be issued on 11 June 2024. Further information is available under Outcome of Application

If you still have to apply for a pre-school funded place information will be published at the close of Stage 2 from 11 June 2024 under 'How to Apply, Next Steps and Places Available' section below.

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.

Outcome of Application

If you applied online an email will be sent on Tuesday 11 June 2024, advising you of the outcome of your child’s pre-school (Stage 2) application.

If you applied using a paper application, you will receive an email or letter (where no email address has been provided).

You may also view the outcome on the EA Connect portal.

Your login details will be the email address and password you had registered with to apply online. If you have forgotten your password, click ‘Forgotten Password’ option on the Portal.

If you submitted a paper application and provided an email address you can log in to EA Connect to view more details.  Click on ‘Forgot Password?’ and enter your email address.  You will then be sent an email with a link which you will need to click on in order to complete the password reset process.  Please check your junk mail/other folders if you cannot find the email.

If you are unable to log on to EA Connect, and you have not received an email or letter, you can contact the Admissions Helpdesk to find out the outcome of your child’s application.

Staff will only be able to provide information to the person who had completed the application.

How to Apply, Next Steps and Places Available

Pre-Schools with Funded Places Still Available and Application Form

Pre-school Age Range

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. You can apply to a Nursery School, Nursery Unit in a Primary School or a playgroup.

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 termand 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 in a Nursery School, Nursery Unit in a Primary School or a playgroup. For 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.  You can only apply to a Nursery School or Nursery Unit in a Primary School.  

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 Pre-School (Target) in September 2024 and in turn delay your child’s start in P1 until September 2026 you can apply for a pre-school (underage) place for September 2024 in a Nursery School, Primary School Nursery Unit. For information on Deferral of School Starting Age.

Key Dates

Date

Activity

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.

Thursday 25 April 2024

Pre-School Stage 2 Admissions application opens.

Friday 3 May 2024 (by 4pm)

Deadline for Pre-School Stage 2 application/preference(s)/documents:

 

  • Additional preferences (treated as punctual) from applicants who are engaging in Stage 2 for a child(ren) not selected in Stage 1; or
  • New 1st time Target age application or pre-school application related to a Late P1 Deferral (treated as punctual); or
  • New 1st time Underage application (treated as late); or
  • Additional preference from an applicant who declined a Stage 1 offer (treated as late).

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Notification of (Stage 2) outcome (includes Underage application) via email where one is held or by letter.

Find a School

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:

Search Schools

Read the Admissions Criteria

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;

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.

Search Admissions Criteria

School Preferences

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.

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.

Supporting Documents

Birth Certificate 

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.

Other Supporting Documents

Check the admissions criteria for each of the pre-school settings you have listed as some pre-school settings 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.

Socially Disadvantaged Circumstances

What is Socially Disadvantaged Circumstances (SDC) when applying for a funded pre-school place?

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 pre-school application and you must provide verification to show an entitlement to the qualifying benefit.

Applying for a Reception place

What is a Reception Class?

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.

Which Primary Schools have a Reception Class?

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.

How do I apply?

The EA Connect Portal is now open for new late Reception applications.

Please contact the Primary School you wish to apply to directly to check if places remain available in their Reception Class before making your application.  You can find the contact details for all Primary Schools under ‘Search Schools’.

Can I apply for a Pre-school funded place and a place in Reception class?

Yes, there are 2 separate application procedures.

The Admissions Criteria for all pre-schools is available on the Search Admissions Criteria webpage. 

If you still have to apply for a pre-school funded place information visit Applying for a Pre-school Place for information

Admissions FAQs

Last updated: 11/06/2024