In Ireland, children must attend school from the ages of 6 to 16 or until second-level students have completed 3 years of education. The Irish education system includes primary, second, third-level and further education. This education is funded by the government at all levels with private education also available.
Children can enter primary education no earlier than the September following their fourth birthday. Irish is a mandatory subject although some children who come to live in Ireland may be exempt. Primary education is provided in primary schools.
Children attend secondary level education in Ireland between the ages of 12 and 18. This cycle last 5 years and comprises of two state exams:
Junior Certificate (end of Year 3) and Leaving Certificate (end of year 5).
Third-level education is provided by higher education universities such as:
- Institutes of Technology
- Private third-level colleges; and
- Colleges of education
For students leaving secondary school, access to third-level courses is based on the results of their Leaving Certificate. Applications for third-level courses are handled through the Central Applications Office (CAO). If you are 23 or over, you can apply to attend third-level as a mature student.