Schools in Ireland are obliged to open for 183 days per year at primary level and 167 days per year at post-primary level. At one time, schools had a good deal of flexibility about the start and end of school terms. This meant that there was considerable variation about when students returned to school after holidays such as Christmas and mid-term breaks.
Since 2004 school terms have been standardised under a series of agreements made between representatives of schools, teacher unions, parents’ organisations and other relevant bodies.
The dates for the start and the end of the school year are not standardised so schools have some discretion about when students finish school in the summer and when they start school in the autumn. All schools are closed for July and most (or all) of August. The dates for the Christmas, Easter and mid-term breaks are standardised.
At the start of the school year, parents/guardians will get a list of days that the school will be closed during the year, including holidays and training days for teachers. If there are other unexpected closures the school will let you know in advance.
The Department of Education and Skills Circular 0016/2014 deals with the standardisation of the school year. The circular also provides guidance about how schools can make up any time that is lost due to unforeseen closures.
The dates for the start and the end of the school year at both primary and post-primary level are not fixed. However, due to the start of certificate exams, post-primary schools are usually not open for tuition after the Friday before the June public holiday (the first Monday in June) in any year. The school year generally starts in the week in which 1 September falls .
Every school must be open for tuition for a minimum of 183 days at primary level and 167 days at post-primary level. Schools can use any remaining days at their discretion to extend the summer holiday period or to close on religious or other holidays.
However, schools cannot use these days to extend the Christmas, Easter or mid-term breaks (unless a religious observance day(s) falls at that time for schools of a particular denomination or faith). If a school does not have enough discretionary days left for a religious holiday, it can denote that day a non-tuition day.
October 2015 mid-term break
All schools close from Monday 26 October 2015 to Friday 30 October 2015 inclusive.
All schools close on Tuesday 22 December 2015, which is the final day of the school term. All schools re-open on Wednesday 6 January 2016.
February 2016 mid-term break
Primary schools close for 2 days, on Thursday 18 February 2016 and Friday 19 February 2016. They may use 3 discretionary days to extend this to a 5-day break starting on Monday 15 February, unless they need these days to make up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures.
Post-primary schools close for a week, from Monday 15 February 2016 to Friday 19 February 2016 inclusive, unless changes are needed to make up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures.
If a post-primary school needs to make up such time, it may shorten the mid-term break by staying open up to and including Wednesday 17 February 2016.
All schools close on Wednesday 16 March 2016, which is the final day of the school term, unless changes are needed to make up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures. If a school needs to make up such time, it may shorten the mid-term break by staying open up to and including Wednesday 23 March 2016.
All schools re-open on Monday 4 April 2016.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.