This is slightly different to what I usually write about but it is hugely important and comes up in conversations all the time. Having just gone through the process myself, I have spoken to loads of parents who were hugely stressed over not being able to get their child into a secondary school. This applies to both public and private schools.
And by early, I mean when your child is born. Yes, that early. Unless you intend to move, you will know what schools are available in the area, so put their name down for those schools when your child is born. Most schools these days charge a fee as part of the registration process so the more schools you pick, the more it is going to cost you.
While schools say they don’t allocate places until 4th class, they do have an order on how the places are allocated. Siblings always get priority, then children of staff. The next order varies on the school. It is either feeder schools or if you were a past pupil yourself.
In the case of one school we applied for for our daughter, there was 1,000 applicants for 120 places. Past pupils was the 4th category and the places were allocated on who registered their interest first. So get you child’s name down, fast!
With the increasing population, especially in Dublin, there has been a lot more primary schools built. But the same can’t be said about secondary schools. I now live 6 km from where I grew up and there’s the same number of secondary schools in the area as 30 years ago! They are servicing a lot more primary schools though. Some of those primary schools are feeder schools but a lot are not. A lot of secondary schools rank feeder schools above past pupils (you need to check this out for whichever school you are picking), so being in a feeder school is hugely important.
This catches out a lot of parents who put their kids down for the local primary and secondary schools and think nothing more of it. It is only when they get the rejection letter from the secondary school do they discover that their local primary school isn’t a feeder school. So when you apply for your child’s primary school, be sure to ask which schools they are a feeder for.
Unless you are sure that your child is getting in, have a back up plan and apply to more than one school. If you wait until you get a rejection letter, you are going to be bottom of the list for any other schools. The demand for places is so fierce at present that if your child is not in a feeder school or you do not have a link to the school, there is a good chance you won’t get your first choice.
I hope this is of benefit to those who are beginning the process of picking schools for your children. If you have any questions, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org