Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Independent Schools

The Irish Constitution acknowledges the role of the family and parents/guardians as the primary educator of the child and states that Parents/guardians shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State. It is enshrined in law that parent(s)guardian(s) may choose to send their child to a private Independent School.

A recognised school is defined under Section 10 of the  Education Act 1998, and must provide a curriculum as prescribed by the Minister for Education, it is in receipt of funds provided by the Oireachtas in respect of the education activities for students and the remuneration of teachers in that school. A non-recognised school or an Independent School is one that is not designated as such by the Minister for Education, it is therefore not funded* by the Department of Education (DE), overseen by its inspectorate, or subject to requirements such as curriculum, calendar year, and other policies specific to the Department of Education.

*certain funding arrangements may be in place for specific centres of education where children attending are subject to Section 14 Registration.

The Role of the Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service  - Tusla, Child and Family Agency

The Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service (AEARS) Tusla - Child and Family Agency supports the right of parents/guardians to educate children in a place other than a recognised school and would like to work with parents/guardians, providers, and the education community to develop effective and supportive partnerships. The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) have a legal requirement under Section 14 of the Education and Welfare Act 2000 to maintain a register of children who are receiving education in a place other than a Department of Education recognised school, including at a non-recognised/independent school.

The Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service (AEARS) is responsible for the regulation of provision for education in places other than recognised schools. Its function is to make an assessment of the educational provision for children under guidance from the Minister, in order to determine if a child can be placed on the statutory register of children in receipt of an education outside of a recognised school. All parents/guardians who want to educate their child in an independent school must apply to have their child’s name registered with the AEARS - Tusla. Registration is not automatic. It is a legal obligation, and the onus is on parents/guardians to make an application on behalf of their child.

Choosing to enrol a child at an Independent School

Parents/guardians who choose to educate their child in places other than recognised schools take on an important role. When parent(s)/guardian(s) choose to send their child to an Independent School,  they undertake to ensure that a certain minimum education is provided for their child. The assessment of Independent Schools and the registration of children attending provides assurance that an education provision under Section 14 of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 and arrangements for child safeguarding are in place.

While a provider may choose to do so, Independent Schools do not need to follow the national curriculum, but each child must receive a certain minimum education. The Independent School should provide a suitable approach in consultation with parents/guardians and within their means, based on each child’s learning needs and appropriate to their age, aptitude, and ability. Independent School providers set their own criteria for the employment of staff regarding qualifications and experience. Teachers at Independent Schools may hold a teaching and/or other qualification, but there is no requirement for those responsible for the education of a child in a setting outside of a recognised school to have any specific qualifications. It is reasonable to expect that educators at Independent Schools would demonstrate a commitment and capacity to providing an education suited to the needs of the children concerned.

It is a legal requirement that all staff employed or working on a voluntary basis at an Independent School are Garda Vetted. All Staff and volunteers must be trained in the Children First National Guidelines and in the school’s  Child Safeguarding Statement,  which must be in place under part (11) Child Care Act 2015.  More information about child protection and welfare can be found here.

Parents/guardians that choose to send their children to an independent school must apply to have their child registered in the Section 14 Register, for children receiving an education in a place other than a recognised school. In order to make a registration decision for the children attending the school under Section 14 of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, an Authorised Person will carry out an assessment of the education being provided at the identified Independent School.

Children on the Section 14 Register are identified as being in full time education. They are entitled to certain state benefits such as child benefit, and health benefits in line with children attending a Department of Education recognised school. Further information can be found from relevant government departments e.g.,  https://www.gov.ie/en/organisation/department-of-health/ and https://www.gov.ie/en/organisation/department-of-social-protection/.

Advice Line Independent Schools

If you have any queries relating to Independent Schools or the application process for children attending an Independent School,  please contact the Alternative Education Assessment and Registration Service, details below:

Independent Schools

(01)  771 8649


Select Option Below

Parents Application Independent Schools

Assessment of Education Provision Independent Schools

Details of Independent Schools


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