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Parenting & Education in Ireland

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Types of Post-Primary Schools

Post-primary schools can be divided into secondary schools, vocational schools, community schools, comprehensive schools and community colleges. The majority of schools are secondary schools. Education is provided free of charge at community schools, comprehensive schools, vocational schools and community colleges. Education is free in most secondary schools. A small number of secondary schools, mostly in Dublin, are fee-paying schools.

The main difference between these types of school lies in how they are managed and who owns them. There are differences too in the way they are funded.

Secondary schools, community schools and comprehensive schools are generally denominational schools. Vocational schools and community colleges are non-denominational.

More than 55% of students attend secondary schools.

Source and copyright Irish Government Website, Citizens Information

Starting Second Level School in Ireland

Most children starting second-level (called "post-primary") education in Ireland begin school at the age of 12 or 13 years. Attendance at post-primary school is compulsory for students who are under 15 years.

You can send your child to the post-primary school of your choice, provided there is a place available for them. Where there is an accommodation problem, the school must give priority on the basis of their enrolment policy. This is drawn up by the Board of Management and should be available to you on request.

While most post-primary schools are in a position to enrol all children who apply, there is no automatic guarantee of a place in the local school.

In order to enrol your child, you should first check the list of post-primary schools in your area. Then, you should contact the school of your choice to see if there is a place available.

The school of your choice may place your child on a waiting list or you may need to contact other schools to find a place.

Second-level education in Ireland consists of a three-year Junior Cycle, followed by a two or three-year Senior Cycle. The Junior Certificate Programme examination is taken after three years. In the Senior Cycle, there is an optional one-year Transition Year programme followed by a choice of three Leaving Certificate programmes. Each of these three Leaving Certificate programmes - the Established Leaving Certificate, the Leaving Certificate Applied and the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme - is a two-year programme. Certain students are provided with an exemption from Irish.

The vast majority of post-primary schools in Ireland do not charge school fees. However, students must pay for books and examination fees. In addition, there are other costs, such as school uniforms. There are schemes to help low-income families meet the costs of schooling.

Source/Copyright Irish Government Website, Citizens Information