The admissions process for pre-schools and primary schools opened on Monday 10 January with over 21,000 applications already received, as children across Northern Ireland get ready to begin their school journey in September 2022.

In total over 40,000 applications are expected between pre-school and primary school.

Children born on or between 2 July 2017 and 1 July 2018 will be compulsory school age in September 2022 and an application must be made for a Primary One place.

Parents of children born on or between 2 July 2018 and 1 July 2019 , 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.

Parents of children born on or between 2 July 2019 and 1 July 2020, can also apply for a funded pre-school place but only in a Nursery School or Nursery Unit in a Primary School and can only be admitted after target age children are admitted and funded places remain.

The application process takes place online and is facilitated by the Education Authority through their Website and Citizen Portal. The Head of Pupil Admissions and Financial Support Services at the EA, Peter Canavan, is expecting another busy period as parents log on to make their application.

“We know how exciting, and at times emotional, it can be for families when their children enter pre-school or primary for the first time so we want to make the process of applying as straight forward as possible,” he explained.

The Citizen Portal to apply online opens from 12.00 noon on Monday 10 January but Mr Canavan stressed that the online application process runs for 3 weeks and will remain open until 12.00 noon on Friday 28 January and is available 24hrs/7 days a week. Parents are advised that an application received by 12 noon on Friday 28 January will be treated as punctual. During the admissions procedure when pre-schools/schools need to apply their criteria, punctual applications will be considered before late applications are considered. Mr Canavan added:

“We want to stress that the admissions process does not operate on a first come first served basis. Pre-Schools/Schools do not begin to look at applications until after the application process closes at 12 noon on 28 January 2022, so parents have time on their side when it comes to making their application.”

One important factor for parents to consider prior to making their application is the admissions criteria for the pre-schools or primary schools they are considering. Each pre-school and primary draws up its own admissions criteria and a pre-school/primary school apply its criteria as published if it receives more applications than it has places available.

“Reading the admissions criteria is the starting point of the entire process for parents,” Mr Canavan explained, before adding:

“On our website you can search for your local pre-school or primary school by name or location and then read its criteria before making your application.”

A parent will be required to provide/upload their child’s birth certificate following completion of their application. It is also important that a parent reads the admissions criteria to find out if any pre-school or primary school they list as a preference requires any other supporting documentation.

Digital Assistance videos/guidance, admissions procedure information and EA Admissions Helpdesk details can be accessed by visiting https://www.eani.org.uk/parents/admissions.

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