Education in Ireland 

Ireland’s education system is one of the most highly regarded in the world. State-funded education is available at all levels, and for those who can afford it you can also choose to send your child to a private institution.  

Education in Ireland is compulsory from age 6 to 16 or until students have completed three years of second level education, whichever comes later.  

Pre-school is optional. You have the choice of privately run crèches, play-schools or Montessori schools, which children attend for one or two years while they are 3 or 4 years old. Parents must pay to send their child to these institutions.  

Although children in Ireland are not obliged to attend school until the age of six, almost all children begin school in the September following their fourth birthday. You have the choice of mixed or single gender schools. The typical primary school enrols pupils by age into eight year-groups, ranging from junior infants to sixth class. The curriculum followed is child-centred and allows for flexibility in timetabling and teaching methods. Upon completion of the full first level course – generally at about 12 years of age, pupils transfer to second level school. For registration in a second level school, students must be aged 12 on 1 January in the first year of attendance.   

It’s important to note that the Catholic Church runs more than 90 percent of all public schools. Other religious groups operate another 6 percent. Educate Together are the main “multi-denominational” type of school and teach about a wide variety of religions without favouring any. There are 31 Educate Together schools in the Dublin area – a list for the whole country can be found on their website. If this is not an issue for you, a full list of traditional primary schools in Ireland can be found here

Education in Ireland is free at all levels, including college (university), but only for students applying from within the European Union.  


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