Ask Brian: My son wants to be a primary teacher. Can he study in the North?

It is possible to do so, but he may have conditions attached to his registration

Question: My son, who sits the Leaving Cert in June, wants to become a primary school teacher. However, he is worried at not being able to achieve the required points. His plan "b" is to study either across the water, or in the North. Is this possible?

Answer: It is perfectly possible to apply for a place on a primary school degree programme in Northern Ireland or Britain.

It is far too late to apply for this coming academic year, however, as normal application close on 15th January. All such primary school teaching courses are listed on the website, through which any application must be made.

If your son was to secure such a UK-based qualification and teach here, he would need to register his qualification with the Irish-based Teaching Council. All teachers employed in State-funded teaching positions in Ireland must be registered with them to be paid a salary by the Department of Education.


To be eligible to apply for registration in Ireland, your son must be a fully recognised/qualified teacher (under the terms of the EU directive 2005/36/EC) in the state in which he completed his teaching qualification.

To be fully qualified in the UK, he must have completed an initial teacher education qualification plus a period of induction.

However, Northern Ireland does not require induction to be completed before it issues a teacher with a letter confirming that they meet the terms of the EU directive.


This means that teaching graduates in the North may choose to complete their period of induction in Northern Ireland or the Republic.

If he decided to apply for registration in the Republic, prior to completing a period of induction in Northern Ireland, “induction” will be attached as a condition to his registration status.

Your son, if he secured a UK-based teaching degree, will be required to demonstrate that his qualifications are comparable having regard to the Teaching Council’s requirements as set out in its registration regulations.

His qualification will be assessed by the council, and any shortfalls that are identified will be attached as conditions to his registration status.

Given that the current Irish primary school teaching degree programme is now a four-year programme and UK-based courses are mainly three years, offering, there will be a significant shortfall of specified course work to be made up. His registration would also be subject to Garda vetting.

The study of the Irish language is also a requirement. If your son were to qualify in Britain or Northern Ireland, he will have to address this by successfully completing either an aptitude test (the SCG) or an adaption period (the OCG). Further information on these options can be found online(

Your son would be afforded three years from the date of registration, during which time he may be employed as a primary school teacher, to address all the identified shortfalls attached to his registration.

Failure to do so within the three-year time period would result in his registration lapsing.