When does a child have to begin education?
When a child reaches the age of four between 1 September of that year and 1 July of the following year, that child must begin education in September of the following year;
For example, if a child’s 4th birthday is on 15 September 2017, they are 4 years of age between 1 September 2017 and 1 July 2018. This child must start education in September 2018.
Where a child reaches the age of four between 2 July of that year and 31 August of the same year, that child does not have to begin education until September of the following year;
For example, if a child’s 4th birthday is on 5 July 2017, they are 4 years of age between 2 July 2017 and 31 August 2017. This child would start compulsory education in September 2018.
Pupils aged 16
Pupils who are 16 between 1 September and 1 July (inclusive) in the school year, can leave school on 30 June of that year.
Pupils who become 16 between 2 July and 31 August (inclusive) in any year, cannot leave school until 30 June of the following year.
Pupils may continue education for a further two years, after they become 16, although this is not compulsory. Education Reform (NI) Order 1989 Article 156 and DE Circular 1990/27 refers.
The education orders which govern children’s attendance at school in Northern Ireland are: