Kids in Ireland – what should you know about it before you move to the country?

A huge number of people from all over the world migrate to Ireland every year. This is not surprising, as the magnificent nature, clean air and kindness of the locals attract migrants to this beautiful country. It is not uncommon for people to decide to relocate as a family, often with children. 

Ireland is a very child-friendly country, where young members of society are treated with an open mind and are careful to respect their rights. So what do you need to know about childcare on the Emerald Isle and what life is like for families with children?

Protection of children’s rights

When you come to Ireland with your children, you can be sure that they will definitely be supervised and safe. There is an agency for children and families called Tusla. This organisation and the Irish Police (Garda) are responsible for the safety and well-being of young members of society. Everyone in the country has a legal obligation to report concerns about children’s safety (if any) to Tusla.

Teachers, educators, childcare workers and health care workers have a special responsibility to do so. Generally speaking, if someone locally notices inappropriate behaviour by adults towards children, they will certainly be called to Tusla. This Agency also takes care of children who find themselves on the Emerald Isle without adult care. They are cared for and placed with temporary guardians or foster families as soon as possible.

Children’s education in Ireland

The Irish pay a lot of attention to children’s education. The education system here is divided into several levels: pre-school, school and college. At each stage, children are developed according to their age and ability. The education scheme aims to unlock a person’s potential and develop their capabilities through non-formal learning. Perhaps this is why Irish students have been successful in getting jobs in top companies around the world.

Pre-school education

There are some kindergartens in the country. Most of them are privately run. If you would like to place your child in such an institution, there is a compensation scheme from the ESSE. This covers your child for up to three hours a day, five days a week. The kid may attend the pre-school free of charge during this time.

However, most locals pay a fee for kindergarten attendance (for full-day attendance) or hire a nanny for their children. The nanny must be 16 years old or older in order to be responsible for the child. There are also qualified nannies, whose services are more expensive, but each of them has proof of specialty. Often the duties of such a staff include not only looking after the child but also simple domestic duties.

School

School education on the Emerald Isle consists of two stages: primary and  secondary school. Children in Ireland start school at age of 4. However, a child must be at least 4 years old to enter the lowest grade, so it is not uncommon for young Irish people to start school much earlier than 6 years of age.

Parents and guardians should monitor their child’s attendance at school and notify the school administration of their child’s absence and the reasons for it. If someone is absent from school for 20 days or more, the school authorities are obliged to notify Tusla. The service will then take the necessary action against the parents or guardians.

Secondary and high school take 5 years in a child’s life and start at the age of 12. All children must pass an external state examination at the end of school and receive a Junior Certificate. Children study up to 9 subjects during this school years. The fourth year of secondary school is considered a transitional year when students may already enter their first job. You can work in Ireland from the age of 14, but only in a simple job and for a small number of hours.

Years five and six are considered senior cycle years. Having completed the final year, all children take an examination and receive the Leaving Certificate Examination. It is the receipt of this document that allows a person to enter a higher education institution. It is worth noting that the Leaving Certificate of High School in Ireland is highly regarded not only in the Emerald Isle, but also overseas.

Universities in Ireland

Higher education institutions in Ireland are divided into several types:

  • Universities of Technology and Institutes of Technology. Such educational institutions usually train professionals in the fields of science, engineering, business, linguistics and music.
  • Autonomous universities with state funding. Here students study in Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral programmes.
  • Private colleges.
  • Teacher training colleges.
  • Postgraduate training for adults. Suitable for those who already have some qualifications but just want to improve them.

Aid schemes for those on low incomes

For those moving to the Emerald Isle as a family or planning to have children in the country, it is useful to know that all parents here receive child benefit until the age of majority. It amounts to €140 per month and is payable to absolutely everyone. For those who do not have enough income per month, there are specific allowances available. Information on the amount of benefits can be found on the official Gov.ie website.

There is child care leave in Ireland. It is 18 weeks for each child. Both parents are entitled to take separate leave. 

There is a maternity allowance for working women. However, it is only available to those who have earned enough PRSI contributions. Payments are made for 26 weeks and amount to 230 euros per week. 

Important rules for parenthood on the Emerald Isle

If you decide to move to Ireland permanently, there are certain rules of parenthood that everyone here is steadfast in honouring. Firstly, never, under any circumstances, use physical force on children. It is unacceptable in any form. No one should use pressure, moral force or violence of any kind on a child. This is a criminal offence in Ireland.

Secondly, never leave children under 14 alone. It is forbidden even if you need to go out to the shops for a short time. There must always be an adult with children under 14. Make sure that someone can take care of your child in case you are away, so that you do not get into trouble. After the age of 14, a teenager may only stay by himself or herself if his or her parents or guardians consider him or her mature and responsible enough.

In Ireland it is customary to spend a lot of time outdoors with children and to encourage their activity and physical development.

On the Emerald Isle, they care about the safety of children and their harmonious development. This is why children are given plenty of freedom and not too much restriction, allowing them to grow and develop in a good, friendly atmosphere.

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Kateryna Mazovetska

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