Do you have to go to school in Ireland?

Learn more about your rights as a young person when it comes to school attendance

Written by Children's Rights Alliance


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This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children’s Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.

As a young person in Ireland there are certain rules about who has to go to school and when. Education is a universal right and your parent/ guardian have a legal responsible to provide an education for you up until a certain age. 

Do I have to go to school in Ireland? 

In Ireland, by law you must go to school from the age of six until you are sixteen years old, or until you have finished three years of secondary school, whichever occurs later. The only exception is if you are being educated at home. You must be at least four years of age at the start of the school year to begin school.

Do I have a right to be taught at home?

Your parent or guardian can choose to educate you at home. To do this, they must register you with Tusla’s Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service. The service will work with your parent or guardian to make sure that your education meets the required standard. You can find more information about this on the Tusla website.

Do I have to go to school every day?

Legally, your parent or guardian must make sure that you go to school every day. If you are going to miss school for a day or for an extended period of time they must tell the school and give a reason if they know you are going to be absent or when you come back from being absent.

What happens if I am sick or have other reasons for not going to school?

If you are unable to attend school, your parent or guardian should contact the school, preferably in writing, to explain why. All schools have an attendance strategy. If your school is concerned about your attendance, they will follow the steps laid out in the strategy. If necessary they will refer your non- attendance to Tusla’s Educational Welfare Services.

If you miss 20 or more days in a school year or if your school is concerned that you are missing too many days, the school must tell Tusla’s Educational Welfare Services. If there is no clear reason for your absence, the agency may send someone to visit your parent or guardian to work out how to improve your school attendance.

If I am being bullied in school do I still have to go in?

If you are being bullied in school it can be normal to feel that you don’t want to go in. What is important in this situation is that you speak to someone in a position of power, such as your parent, guardian or teacher about what is going on so that they can help stop it. Going to school is important and you shouldn’t have to miss out on your education due to the actions of another person. Visit our Bullying section to learn more about the supports available to you if you are experiencing bullying. 

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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