MyChoice IrelandIrish High School Placements

Although Ireland shares many cultural similarities to England, this small, beautiful country offers a distinctive study abroad opportunity for students looking for an academic placement. The Irish educational system is of a high-quality, differing slightly from that of the UK and the Irish people are well known for being some of the friendliest, most welcoming – ensuring this to be a fantastic place for international students to spend a year abroad.

2020 Irish High School Programme

MyChoice Ireland offers a state school placements with homestay accommodation based in County Carlow, only 90 minutes from Dublin.

Irish State High School Placement with Homestay

We accept under 16’s on this placement programme. It is best suited to students aged 14 to 17.

Students can choose their study duration, choosing from:

  • 1 Term (September to December)
  • 2 Terms (January to May)
  • 1 Academic Year (September to May)

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State schools are exciting establishments for international students to undertake a study abroad placement as is it rare to have many other international students at the same school or in the same community, making the experience much more immersive and authentic. This added with the benefit of homestay accommodation makes an academic placement in Ireland with Xplore, very special indeed.

The education system in Ireland is similar to that of England, however the qualification process does differ as does the pathways when a student reaches age 15.

Students aged 14 will be placed in a year group studying a broad curriculum working towards their Junior certificate, which is comparable to GCSEs in the UK. For students aged 15 and 16, the Irish education system offers two opportunities for study, either the ‘Transition Year’ or entry into the ‘Senior Cycle’.

The Transition Year allows students to experience and develop workplace-specific skills through work experience complemented by in-school assessments. Students in senior cycle education will be studying between 6 to 8 subjects that they can choose from subject categories.

Find out more about the School Education System in Ireland.

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Living with a local family can be a huge benefit to international students studying in Ireland, as they offer another network of support and encouragement for the student, not to mention cultural immersion and awareness. Host families in Ireland are selected by our partner provider, CIELS.

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Irish School System

The academic year in Ireland runs from September through to June, and a students ‘grade’ or ‘class’ is determined by their age before September 1st.

After completing primary education at age 11, students continue their academic career at a ‘Secondary School’.
During this ‘second-level’ education, Irish students complete a 3-year junior cycle followed by 2 or 3-year senior cycle, depending on whether they chose to take an optional Transition Year after they have completed their Junior Certificate qualification at age 15.

The Transition Year is one of the most distinctive elements of the Irish education system, allowing students aged 15 who opt to follow it to embark on a one-year work experience based education alongside assessments taken in school. Once the transition year is complete, students then continue into senior cycle education joining a year behind students who chose to enter straight into the senior cycle. Once within the senior cycle, students study towards a ‘Leaving Certificate; which is most comparable to GCE A Levels in England, however the biggest difference is the number of subjects studied for this qualification.

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Junior Cycle

The junior cycle normally begins at age 12, with students studying for three years before taking their junior certificate examination.

These examinations are designed to test students across a broad curriculum preparing them for their senior cycle education and normally consists of between 9 and 13 subjects taken at one of four levels.

Mandatory subjects include English, Mathematics and CSPE (Civil, Social and Political Education) – Irish is also mandatory for native Irish students. Optional subjects can be chosen from subject categories; arts & humanities, modern languages, sciences and applied sciences.

Senior Cycle

Once students aged 15 have completed their junior certificate, students can decide to continue down one of two paths, either opting for a transition year or go straight into the final two years of the senior cycle which prepare students for taking one of three state examinations or ‘Leaving Certificate’.

During the senior cycle, students choose 6 to 8 subjects including English, modern languages, mathematics, physical education, applied sciences, laboratory sciences, business studies and arts and humanities.

Transition Year

This is a one year programme for students aged 15 to 16 designed to follow the junior cycle. Although there is no ‘state examination’, the year allows students to experience and develop skills through work experience and in-school oral, practical and written assessments and portfolios are carried out throughout the year.

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Additional Information

Visa Information

State School Placements

EEA Students – No visa requirements as Ireland is part of the EU/EEA which allows freedom of movement.

Non-EEA Students – Students from non-EEA countries may need a visa, please check the Irish Government website.


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