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The standard of schools and education in Ireland is high. Education is compulsory for children from ages six to 16, and expat children are usually eligible to attend local Irish schools.
Education in Ireland consists of state-funded public or national schools and private schools. Irish schools include religious schools, non-denominational schools and schools which teach the national curriculum in Gaelic.
The main language of instruction at Irish schools is English. Gaelic classes are part of the local curriculum but foreign children are not required to learn the language.
Public schools in Ireland
The quality of education at public schools in Ireland is high, and many expat parents are perfectly happy to enrol their children at public schools. Although public school education is provided free of charge, parents are usually expected to pay for uniforms, school books and extra-curricular activities.
All public schools follow the Irish national curriculum. The Irish public schooling system is known for being exam focused, which some expat children struggle to adjust to.
Private schools in Ireland
There are a number of private schools in Ireland, most of them located in Dublin. These schools are privately funded and are not subject to state control with regards to curriculum and the daily management of the school.
Many private schools have religious affiliations and in most cases Catholic foundations, while some institutions teach in Gaelic. Irish private schools can be expensive with a tuition of thousands of euros per year.
International schools in Ireland
A number of international schools in Ireland specifically cater to foreign nationals, including German, French and Japanese schools. There are also a few schools that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, although most of these are located in Dublin.
International schools in Ireland are difficult to get into and often have long waiting lists, so parents should apply as soon as possible. Tuition fees can be steep, and expats who insist on having their children attend an international school should factor these costs into their employment contract negotiations before arriving in Ireland.
Tutors in Ireland
Children arriving in a new country are often daunted by the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of new surroundings, and they stand to benefit a great deal from a dedicated tutor who could not only educate them academically, but also provide a helping hand in settling in and building some confidence. Those expat children who aren’t fluent in English will find particular value in an English language tutor in Ireland.
The country has a huge array of tutors to choose from, specialising in a variety of subjects and age groups. Some of the top tutoring agencies include First Tutors Ireland, Home Tutoring Ireland and GradIreland.
Special-needs education in Ireland
All children in Ireland with disabilities and children with special needs have the constitutional right to free education up to the age of 18. The Irish policy is to provide special needs education in mainstream schools as far as possible, and to educate those children with special needs in an inclusive setting unless it’s not in the best interests of the child or the effective provision of education for other children in mainstream schools.
There are a number of special schools in Ireland, mostly in Dublin, catering for particular types of disability and special needs, among them schools for students who have a general learning disability at a mild or moderate level; schools for visually impaired and hearing impaired students; schools for students with physical disabilities; and schools for students with emotional disabilities.
►For a list of international schools, see International Schools in Dublin
►See Healthcare in Ireland for an overview of the Irish healthcare system
"Our children were six and three years old when we arrived. Because we as parents were excited, they were excited too. All we had was each other and we stuck together on everything and it made a huge difference." Read more of Terri Lee's interview.
Are you an expat living in Ireland?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ireland. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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