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Academic High School Year in Ireland 

Education in Ireland Facts

  • Middle school and High school in Ireland are collectively referred to as Secondary school. It is sometimes more formally referred to as post primary school 

  • School levels in Ireland are referred to by class and year. In primary schools first grade is referred to as 'First Class'. 

  • Year 7 in the UK or Grade 7 in the US is referred to as 'First Year' in Ireland. This is because it is the first year of secondary school. In total there are 6 years in Secondary School in Ireland. 

  • The majority of schools require students to wear uniforms which can cost somewhere between €200 to €300 depending on the school and the suppliers

  • There are a variety of public day schools in Ireland such as voluntary secondary schools, community schools, comprehensive and vocational. All are state backed entities with state funding provided based on the number of students attending on a yearly basis

  • School hours usually run from 9am to 4pm in state run secondary schools 

  • The language spoken in Irish secondary schools is English. 

School Ages

Secondary schools can be broken down in two cycles. The junior cycle and the senior cycle. The junior cycle consists of three years and the senior cycle consists of 2 compulsory years and 1 optional year

Junior Cycle

School Year 

First Year

Second Year 

Third Year 





Senior Cycle

School Year 

Fourth Year*

Fifth Year 

Sixth Year 





Transition year

*Fourth year is sometimes referred to as transition year and is an optional senior cycle year. Transition year allows students time to move from the junior cycle before they fully enter the senior cycle exam years. Transition year can be full of life changing experiences that allow students to taste non academic subjects as well as explore business or artist endeavours which often gives students much needed perspective before choosing careers or university programmes. Not all schools offer transition year and not all students choose to complete this year given it is not mandatory to do so

School Terms in Ireland 

Irish high schools are open for nine months between September and June.  There are three school semesters (terms) in the academic year



  • September to December

  • January to March 

  • April to June

Early application is essential to ensure a place in your school of choice. For more information please view the  Education in Ireland 

Note: The school year is often broken into two terms for students that wish to study for 1 semester only. Students typically attend school from either September to December or January to June. It is extremely unlikely that students would be accepted by the school from April to June as the term is too short. 

International Schools


The overall standard of education in Ireland is consistently high. Public schools in Ireland are accessible to native Irish students as well as EEA residents that wish to study overseas. Non EEA  students are unable to enroll in public schools but can access an excellent selection of fee paying (private) schools throughout Ireland. There are a variety of fee paying schools available to students including private secondary schools, boarding schools and international schools such as French, German and American run schools. The primary difference between public and private schools are class sizes with smaller classes on average in private schools. 


Both EEA and Non EEA students are eligible to attend fee paying schools in Ireland such as private secondary schools and boarding schools. However, only EEA residents may attend public schools. 

Private secondary Schools 

There are numerous private secondary schools across various cities. Many private schools are academic in nature concentrating primarily on the senior cycle year groups.  They are periodically inspected by the department of education to ensure quality educational standards are maintained. Well known private schools include Bruce College Cork and Tutorial College Limerick.  

Boarding Schools/International schools 

Boarding schools in Ireland are affordable and demonstrate an excellent standards of education. Boarding schools are typically a mix of Irish students and a healthy cohort of international students from various parts of the world. Catholic and religious boarding schools are common in many parts of the country and are usually single sex ed although a good selection of co- educational boarding schools are available such as Villiers IB School in Limerick.


Students may attend full-time, fortnightly or 5 day boarding schools. For students that wish to opt for a fortnightly or 5 day boarding option, a local family known as a homestay is required. There are many benefits to homestays including the opportunity to learn more about Irish culture and increase opportunities to speak English. There's always the added joy of having home cooked food and a private room for students that don't like the idea of sharing a room. All homestay families offered are fully police vetted and go through a standard inspection process in order to be accepted as an eligible homestay. Our homestays have a proven track record with international students with years of experience taking care of students. To learn more about homestay families, click here. 

Accommodation in boarding schools may vary from school to school. Some schools offer large dorms where there may be from 6 to 8 or more students while other schools offer smaller rooms that have just 2 students. In some boarding schools, the senior students may have an individual room. 

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Admission Requirements

Requirements to enrol at an international school will vary from school to school. It can be a challenge to navigate all the aspects of enrolling a student in an International School in Ireland. If you don't know where to start and are a little unsure, schedule a free consultation with us and we'll help simplify all aspects of enrolment. 

In general, the admission requirements for an international school in Ireland include:

  • a certain level of knowledge of the language of instruction. Students should be a minimum of B2. Schools will consider language level during an interview and may require students to take a test to verify their language level

  • student’s birth certificate;

  • copy of passport;

  • passport-sized photograph of the student;

  • school transcript from the previous year;

  • parents’ contact information

  • Reference letter outlining student performance from a teacher or principal 

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