School terms in primary and post-primary schools

Information

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 2016/2017. Circular 0009/2017 deals with the standardisation of the school years from 2017/2018 to 2019/2020. The circulars also provides guidance about how schools can make up any time that is lost due to unforeseen closures.

Rules

Start and end of the school year

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 State exams, post-primary schools are usually not open 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 .

Discretionary days

Every school must be open 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.

School year 2018/19

October 2018 mid-term break

All schools close from Monday 29 October 2018 to Friday 2 November 2018 inclusive.

Christmas 2018

All schools close on Friday 21 December 2018, which is the final day of the school term. All schools re-open on Monday 7 January 2019.

February 2019 mid-term break

Primary schools close for 2 days, on Thursday 21 February 2019 and Friday 22 February 2019. They may use 3 discretionary days to extend this to a 5-day break starting on Monday 18 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 18 February 2019 to Friday 22 February 2019 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 20 February 2019.

Easter 2019

All schools close on Friday 12 April 2019, 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 17 April 2019.

All schools re-open on Monday 29 April 2019.

School year 2019/20

October 2019 mid-term break

All schools close from Monday 28 October 2019 to Friday 1 November 2019 inclusive.

Christmas 2019

All schools close on Friday 20 December 2019, which is the final day of the school term. All schools re-open on Monday 6 January 2020.

February 2020 mid-term break

Primary schools close for 2 days, on Thursday 20 February 2020 and Friday 21 February 2020. Primary schools may use 3 discretionary days to extend this to a 5-day break starting on Monday 17 February 2020, 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 17 February 2020 to Friday 21 February 2020 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 19 February 2020.

Easter 2020

All schools close on Friday 3 April 2020, 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 8 April 2020.

All schools re-open on Monday 20 April 2020.

Page edited: 5 June 2019