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Registration of Independent Schools - Guidance Notes


All independent schools in Northern Ireland are required by law to be registered with the Department of Education.

Application form

To register an independent school in Northern Ireland you may do so online or by downloading the application form PDF 41 KB and posting to

Department of Education
School Governance Team
Rathgael House
43 Balloo Road
BT19 7PR

Local: 028 9127 9404
International: +44 (0)28 9127 9404

Each application will be dealt with objectively and impartially.

The school timetable should be submitted with the application and must include for each class:

  1. name of the teacher
  2. number of pupils in the class
  3. length of time of instruction
  4. subject of instruction
  5. an analysis showing the number of hours of instruction received weekly by each class in each subject of the school curriculum
  6. the dates on which the school will be in operation during the school year.

Registration requirements

An independent school and anyone responsible or engaged in the management or operation of the school must comply with public policies and legislation designed to safeguard the welfare of children and young people and public health and safety which includes premises health and safety requirements. Information about the vetting of adults working with children is available on the AccessNI pages on the nidirect website. Information about public health and safety can be accessed from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland website on

The premises should be suitable for use as a school, having regard to the number, ages, gender and abilities of the pupils in attendance.

You should provide efficient and suitable instruction having regard to the ages, gender and abilities of the pupils in attendance.

The Department may refuse an application for the registration of a school, if any of these requirements is not met.

Registration process

The Department will advise you that the school is provisionally registered as an independent school, when all the documentation associated with the application form is received, provided that the persons holding registered positions are in compliance with the AccessNI rules rules. Only AccessNI compliant persons can be engaged in the operation of the school. At this initial stage, the Department will advise you of the time period for the full registration process and the means of redress in the event of the application being refused.

The Education and Training Inspectorate ( is responsible for inspecting the standards of education provision in independent schools and will arrange an inspection visit after the date of the receipt of an application form for the registration of a new school.

The Department will notify you in writing of the outcome of the full registration process. However, if a complication arises which justifies a delay in taking a decision on the registration of the school as an independent school at the end of the six months, the Department is entitled to extend the six months deadline by a limited period. If this occurs you will be notified of the period of the extension.

When your school acquires full registration as an independent school, you will be required to provide the Department with up to date information on an annual basis about its operation, including the number of pupils and staff at the school. The school will also be subject to regular inspections by the Education and Training Inspectorate and will receive an inspection report. These are standard procedures which apply to all schools.

The Department should be notified immediately, in writing, of any change in the proprietorship or teaching staff or postal address of an independent school.

List of Independent Schools