Education is compulsory for children in Ireland from the ages of 6 to 16 or until students have completed 3 years of second-level education.
The Irish education system is made up of primary, second, third-level and further education. State-funded education is available at all levels, unless you choose to send your child to a private school.
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The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides free early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. Children can start ECCE when they are 2 years and 8 months of age and continue until they transfer to primary school.
The primary education system consists of 8 years, and although children do not have to enrol until the age of 6, most do so after their 4th birthday. The primary school curriculum in Ireland covers all key areas such as language, mathematics, social, environment and scientific education, arts education including visual arts music and drama, physical education, social personal and health education. The Irish language (Gaeilge) is compulsory for most students at primary and secondary level, however, exemptions are granted for children not born in the Republic of Ireland.
To enrol your child in primary school, you should check the list of primary schools in your area.
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Second-level education consists of a 3-year junior cycle followed by a 2-year or 3-year senior cycle depending on whether an optional Transition Year is taken following the Junior Certificate examination.
Students generally start the junior cycle at the age of 12. The Junior Certificate is taken after 3 years.
Transition Year follows the Junior Certificate or Junior Cycle examination. This year is free from formal examinations and allows students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, including work experience.
During their final 2 years in the senior cycle, students take a State examination – the Leaving Certificate.
The Leaving Certificate is the main basis upon which places in universities, institutes of technology and colleges of education are allocated.
To enrol your child in secondary school, you should check the list of secondary schools in your area.