Post primary transfer advice for P6 parents in Northern Ireland

Post primary transfer advice for P6 parents in Northern Ireland

With kids, we're all up to our eyes roughly 105% of the time, so here's a distilled TL:DR version of the EANI booklet, Advice for P6 parents, that was issued at the end of January. (Just in case it's still sitting in your 'to read' pile…)

The booklet explains what parents of children who are preparing for the transfer to secondary school need to do. 

NB SEN pupils have a separate process - contact EA or the SEN helpdesk on 028 9598 5960 for details.


First steps - Summer of P6

In the summer between P6 and P7 all the key dates should be in place, so familiarise yourself with these. 

The timetable as it stands is laid out below to give you a rough idea - the ones in bold are the ones to really keep your eyes on.

May 2024 (tbc)
Registration for SEAG transfer test opens
October 2024 (tbc)
Registration closes
16th November 2024
Assessment Paper 1
23rd November 2024
Assessment Paper 2
January 2025 (tbc)
Admissions criteria published on the EA website
January 2025 (tbc)
SEAG transfer test results issued
January 2025 (tbc)
Post primary applications open
February 2025 (tbc)
Post primary applications close
March 2025 (tbc)
Final date for late applications
May 2025 (tbc)
Application outcome issued

You can access the official SEAG dates (the SEAG test replaces both the AQE and GL tests) and the EANI dates here. 


Next steps - Christmas/January

In December, the EANI publishes the dates for the schools application process, and in January the schools publish their criteria for entry on the EANI website. 

Around this time, you should start thinking about which schools you might like to apply for. 

Here are some things to consider when making this decision: 

Your child

  • Think about where they (and you) feel they would be happiest

The school itself

  • Check out the prospectus (on the school website)

  • Go to open days / nights which generally take place in January. 

  • Use these to get a feel for the school and see what exams and courses the school offers as well as what extra curricular activities are available. 

  • You can also see what arrangements the school might make for pupils who need extra help, as well as policies like discipline and pastoral care.

  • Don't forget to consider regular outgoings like fees, uniform and sports kit costs.

The criteria

  • Each school's admissions criteria is published on the EA Admissions Criteria page around the second week in January.  

  • Think about how the criteria applies to your child.

  • You can find out whether schools are oversubscribed, and which criteria they have applied/ what grades they have accepted in the past. The historical pattern of applications and admissions can help you decide if your child is likely to meet the criteria.

  • **Be aware that each school can change their criteria from year to year so make sure to look at the most up to date documents** 

Travel

  • Think about how your child will get to and from school and the impact this will have on their day (and yours).

  • Bear in mind that you only get free school transport under certain circumstances. 

  • Find out if you're eligible for free transport by using the EA online transport checker.


January / February - the transfer application phase

This is where the form filling begins. The applications open in January (for this year's dates click here) and closes in February. 

NB The March date you may see for 'late applications' is not one to shoot for - most schools place all of the punctual applications ahead of the late ones and so will almost certainly be oversubscribed by the time yours is considered if you are in this category. Apply before the February closing date! 


  • Select your schools

Based on the school admission criteria, the EA recommends that parents select a minimum of four schools, including at least one non-grammar. However you can list as many as you wish. 

Bear in mind that, although not recommended by the EA, some schools do give priority to applicants who list their school as a first preference.  Make sure you know which schools do this as this may influence your order of preference. 


  • Show how you meet the criteria

Also included on the application form is your opportunity to show how your child meets the criteria for the schools of their choice. 

This is what schools use to decide how well your child meets its admissions criteria, from having a sibling in the school (don't presume they'll know!) to their test scores, feeder school etc. 

You should include the relevant information for ALL of the schools you are applying for, so get familiar with all of their specified criteria.

You may need to supply supporting documents to back up what you've said, for example entitlement to free school meals, or if the applicant is the eldest child etc.  


Finally, check it. 

This part is all down to you.

In between times, if circumstances change in a way that might affect your application (you move house, your child becomes entitled to free school meals), you can contact the EA on 028 9598 5595 to find out next steps. 


May - the outcomes are announced

The part everyone has been waiting for. Hopefully every child will be placed in a school where they will settle and thrive, but if you're not happy you can:

  • Appeal via an Independent Admissions Appeal Tribunal

  • Make a claim of Exceptional Circumstances

Information about both is available here.

 

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