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1. What is the school year?
The school year runs from the beginning of September to the end of June, with breaks of approximately 2 weeks for Christmas and Easter and shorter breaks in between. While there are certain dates where all schools must close this can vary and each school should issue you with a list of opening times, holidays, half days, staff meetings, half term breaks etc, at the beginning of the school year.
2. Standardisation of the School Year in respect of Primary & Post-Primary Schools for the School Year 2016/2017
It is not a requirement of this agreement that the commencement or end of the school year either at primary or post-primary level should be standardised. However while schools may use their discretionary days, where available, to determine the precise start and end of the school year, it is recognised the commencement of Certificate Examinations will mean that post-primary schools will not be open for tuition beyond the Friday preceding the June bank holiday in any year. The expectation is that the school year will normally commence during the week in which 1st September falls. However, the school year may commence in the week prior to that in which 1 st September falls where this is necessary in order to meet the overall requirement of a minimum of 167 at post-primary level or 183 days at primary level. Schools are reminded that any day on which a school completes less than a full school day’s instruction shall not be counted as a full school day for the purposes of meeting the overall requirements of 167 days at post-primary or 183 days at primary level.
October 2016 mid-term break All schools will close from Monday 31st October 2016 to Friday 4th November 2016 inclusive.
Christmas 2016 All schools will close on Thursday 22nd December 2016, which will be the final day of the school term. All schools will re-open on Monday 9 th January 2017.
February 2017 mid-term break All primary schools will close on Thursday 23rd February 2017 and Friday 24 th February 2017. (Primary schools may use 3 discretionary days to extend this break to an alternative option of a 5 day break for the period from Monday 20th February 2017 to Friday 24 th February 2017 inclusive unless changes are required as part of contingency arrangements to make up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures.)
Post-primary schools will close from Monday 20th February 2017 to Friday 24th February 2017 inclusive unless changes are required as part of contingency arrangements to make up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures. Where contingency arrangements are required a school authority may reduce the length of the February mid-term break by remaining open up to and including Wednesday 22nd February 2017.
Easter 2017 All schools will close on Friday 7 th April 2017, which will be the final day of the school term, unless changes are required as part of contingency arrangements to make up for time lost due to unforeseen school closures. Where contingency arrangements are required a school authority may reduce the length of the Easter break by remaining open up to and including Wednesday 12th April 2017. All schools will re-open on Monday 24th April 2017
Click here to read the Departmental Circular on the Standardisation of the School year (Circular 0016/2014)
It is stressed that the 183 days is a minimum number which must be adhered to by all primary schools (and all classes within a school). In no sense should this number be regarded as a maximum for any school. The school year typically breaks down as set out below.
All schools must close for Summer holidays for the complete months of July and August. The choice of the remainder of the days on which a school will be closed is a matter for the Board of Management.
The school may be closed on public holidays. Closure on religious holidays and also on special days not occurring during school holidays is at the discretion of the Board of Management, subject to meeting the requirement of 183 teaching days per year.
[Department of Education and Science Circular 11/95 here]
The school should give parents, at the beginning of each year, a calendar of events including details of the length of school year and closures. It should of course be made clear that the calendar could be subject to change in the event of a closure for an exceptional cause, but that, as a general rule any unforeseen closure would be compensated for later in the school year.
3. How long is the school day?
Classes usually start between 9am and 9.30am. A school day lasts 5 hours and 40 minutes. Schools open from Monday to Friday. This includes assembly time, roll call and breaks.
There is normally a morning break around 11 am and a lunch break around 12.30 pm. It is important to give your child healthy food and drink for these two breaks. Schools encourage healthy eating and many schools ask parents not to give sweets, chocolate, crisps or fizzy drinks for lunch.
The school day typically breaks down as set out in the following model.
[Department of Education]
Special Provisions for Infants and First Class
Schools are permitted to reduce the school day by one hour for children in infant classes. The decision to apply this concession rests with the school's Board of Management. The special provisions for infant or first class children do not exempt any teacher from attendance for the full period.
There are exceptional circumstances when the school might have to close, such as for Political Election purposes where the school is being used as a polling station or in the case of adverse weather conditions. It is suggested that school managers could usefully engage in discussion locally with parents concerning the practical arrangements which will apply when closures occur at short notice. [See the Department of Education and Science Circular 11/95 here]
[National Council for Curriculum and Assessment - Primary School Curriculum: Introduction]