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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

12 Essential Questions Every Parent Should Consider For Schools In Ireland

Updated: May 13

An Outside-In Guide: Practical Advice Gathered From The Parents Of 43 Children

My wife, Sindhu, and I are new to the Irish education system and want to enroll our 4-year-old son in primary school. We decided to talk to a few families to learn. We took notes to make the most of our conversations and share the findings.

We hope this post can guide your family in choosing the right primary or secondary school for their kids.

Sindhu spent 20 hours speaking with 24 families. I spent 5 hours 30 minutes writing this post.

Happy kids in an Irish school system.
Happy kids in an Irish school system.

Related:

What Did We Want To Know?

We asked many questions because we knew so little and wanted to learn so much. Some of those include:

  • Which school do your children attend?

  • What other schools did you consider before choosing this school?

  • What appeals to you about this school over other options?

  • How was your experience with the application process and the wait list?

  • How do you manage the daily commute to school and work? How did the commute logistics affect your school choice?

  • What after-school childcare does your child go to? How did these options influence your school decision?

  • How was your after-school application process?

  • Are there any secondary schools you are considering for your child? How does your primary school choice align with it, for example, as a feeder school?

  • What is the impact of school's alumni network towards opportunities or community?

  • How do you evaluate a school's quality? For example, academic performance, GAAs, quality of teachers, student demographics, facilities, etc.?

  • You've been very helpful and I've learnt a lot. Any other advice you have for me?

  • Optional - deep-dive into the school activities, culture, and curriculum

Whom Did We Talk To?

We spoke to 24 families with 43 children. The children in these families ranged from newborns to 10-year-olds. This age spread meant we spoke to parents with primary school kids and those applying to schools.

We spoke to 24 families with 43 children aged 0 to 10-year-olds.
We spoke to 24 families with 43 children aged 0 to 10-year-olds.

Q: Which school do your children attend?

Word cloud of schools the children attend or will attend.
Word cloud of schools the children attend or will attend.

23/24 parents shared this with us. Here are the patterns we observed from 23 families:

  • Diversity in School Types: Some families went to public schools (e.g., Harold School), some to private schools (e.g., Castle Park School, Rathdown School), and some to Educate Together schools (e.g., Bray School Project, ET Adamstown).

  • Prevalence of Educate Together Schools: We spoke to many immigrants, including primarily Indians. So many kids attend Educate Together schools. We count 8 ETNS in our notes.

  • Irish-medium education: Some families send their kids to Scoil Lorcáin, an Irish-speaking school.

  • Siblings: In one family, the siblings go to 2 different schools. In some other cases, 4 siblings go to the same school. This depends on whether the school is mixed-gender and where the family lived when a child started school.

  • Pre-school: Some families had their eldest child younger than 4 years of age, so they had not joined school. But they knew more than us about the school options and could share their research and preferences. So, some conversations were future-facing.

The 12 Articles in this series

What would you like to know?

Based on topics we did not cover, is there something you wish you could ask parents?

Let us know if we can help in any way.


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