||How to Apply
How to Apply 2020-01-16T17:00:36+00:00

How to Apply

The School admissions criteria are as follows:-

The School will initially consider, for non-boarding places, only those candidates who have taken the Common Entrance Assessment (“the CEA”) provided by the Association for Quality Education (“the AQE”) and who have been awarded a score in the CEA.

The School has an Admission number of 100 pupils.  Up to a maximum of 15 of these places will be available each year for Boarding Pupils.

All boarding applications should be made direct to the School, which will be the main information point for parents regarding boarding applications and procedures.

In selecting pupils for admission to the School, children who are resident in Northern Ireland at the time of their proposed admission to the School will be selected for admission before any children who are not so resident.

Open Evening Information

Parents/Guardians and boys and girls in P6/P7 and prospective Sixth Formers are warmly invited to visit the School on Thursday 23 January 2020 (7.00pm – 9.30pm).

To Parents/Guardians naming The Royal School, Armagh as a Preference on your child’s Transfer Form


Admission Criteria

    1. The first 80 places from the Admission Number of 100 will be allocated to candidates on the basis of the rank order of their respective scores in the CEA; those achieving higher scores being allocated places before those with lower scores. If several candidates are eligible for being the 80th place because they have equal scores, then all such candidates will be allocated places up to the School’s Admission Number, using the tie-breaker criteria as necessary.
  • Up to a maximum of 15 boarding places will then be allocated from the Admissions Number of 100. All candidates applying for a boarding place must attend for an interview with the Headmaster in order to establish their suitability for boarding.  The candidate is not required to have taken the CEA, but is not precluded from consideration for a boarding place by having done so.  The interview will not be to assess academic aptitude, but to ensure the candidate’s suitability to join the Boarding Department, and that the candidate and their parent(s) accept the conditions of entry.  Brothers or sisters of boarders on the School roll at the time of application will be given priority for a boarding place.  Boarding places are offered and accepted on the understanding that the candidate will remain in boarding until the end of Year 12.  A pupil cannot be given a day place if the pupil is withdrawn from boarding before the end of Year 12.  A separate Boarding Admission Criteria is applicable in respect of boarding places which is available to parents upon request.
  • The remaining day places from the Admission Number will be allocated from a pool of 20 candidates who will be identified by rank order of their CEA scores with those achieving higher scores being allocated places before those with lower scores to the pool. In the event of several candidates being eligible for the 20th place in the pool because they have equal scores, the pool will be increased and all such candidates will be included in the pool.  Candidates from this pool will be allocated to the remaining places on application of the tie-breaker criteria.
  • If, following the application of criteria 1, 2, and 3 all the available places in the School’s Admission Number have not been filled, the School will consider for admission any candidates who have not taken the CEA. In the event that the number of such candidates exceeds the number of remaining places, allocation of the remaining places will be made by applying the tie-breaker criteria.
  • The ‘tie-breaker’ criteria. If as specified in paragraphs 1, 3 or 4 that the tie-breaker criteria apply, the following criteria will then apply successively in the order stated below, until the final selection is completed. Therefore, if there are more candidates who satisfy criteria (i) than there are places available, criteria (ii) will then be applied and successively thereafter, until all the remaining places are allocated.
  • Candidates enrolled in the School’s Preparatory Department as at 1 September 2018 and who continue to be enrolled as at 13 May 2020;
  • Candidates with a brother or sister who as of 1 September 2019 are attending or who previously attended the School (details to be supplied); or candidates who are the eldest child in the family;
  • Candidates who are siblings of a multiple birth (e.g., twins or triplets) and whose multiple birth sibling is to be admitted to Year 8 for September 2020
  • Candidates with a parent or guardian who are former pupils of the Royal School, Armagh or the former Armagh Girls’ High School (name and date of attendance to be supplied);
  • Candidates who are entitled to Free School Meals (FSME)*;
  • If after all the criteria 5(i) to 5(iv) have been exhausted it becomes necessary to make a further selection, places will be allocated on the basis of the rank order of the candidates’ respective score; those achieving higher scores being allocated places before those with lower scores. If more than one candidate is eligible for the final place because they have equal scores priority will be given to the candidate whose home is closer to the School. Distance will be measured in a straight line using an Ordnance Survey web distance measurement tool from the candidate’s home to the front entrance gate of the School. Home will be taken to mean the front door of the candidate’s Normal Home Address, which should be the address appearing at the commencement of the CEA Application Form;* ‘Entitled to Free School Meals’ will mean candidates who, at the date on which they have signed their post-primary Transfer Form or at any date up to and including 13 May 2015, have communicated within their Transfer Form that they are listed on the Education and Library Board and/or the Education and Skills Authority register as entitled to Free School Meals.(Please ensure that the relevant information is stated on the Transfer Form. The School emphasises that it is the responsibility of those completing and signing the Transfer Form to notify the school on the Transfer Form where the above criteria apply, and to furnish all relevant details.)Special Circumstances
  • The purpose of a claim for Special Circumstances and/or Special Provision is so that a child can be assigned a score equivalent to that which he or she would have obtained in the AQE CEA, under normal conditions.  Consideration of a claim for Special Circumstances and/or Special Provision consists of two parts.  The first requires the consideration of whether there is, in the judgement of the Committee of the Board of Governors, sufficient material to permit a child to be considered as having Special Circumstances or attracting Special Provision, or both.  If a child is permitted to be considered as having Special Circumstances or as attracting Special Provision or both, the second part of the consideration requires an educational judgement to be made on the totality of the material presented to the Committee of the Board of Governors so that a mark equivalent to that which the child would have obtained in the AQE CEA under normal conditions can be awarded.
  • It is for parents to present all such material as they consider will assist the Committee of the Board of Governors in performing both parts of the consideration described above.
  • The School has academic performance as its first criterion, subject only to the consideration of medical or other problems which may have resulted in an exceptional negative performance in the CEA and which are supported by independent contemporaneous (i.e. should be dated October/November 2019) documentary evidence of a medical or other appropriate nature.  The medical practitioner providing the evidence must be independent i.e. not related to the candidate.  When the difficulty or problem is of a more long-term nature the medical evidence is still required but does not have to be contemporaneous with the timing of a test or tests.
  • These ‘medical or other problems’ are commonly referred to as ‘Special Circumstances’.  Special Circumstances situations for candidates for a day place will be considered by a Subcommittee of the Board of Governors who will, before the application of the criteria, decide whether the score awarded in the CEA should be adjusted.
  • If a claim for the consideration of Special Circumstances is made in respect of matters for which Special Access arrangements were granted for a candidate, the School will take into account the fact that the candidate was granted Special Access arrangements for those matters.
  • As candidates have the opportunity to take three assessments (and in which case the final score is based on the best two), a claim for Special Circumstances relating to performance in one assessment will not be accepted.
  • Parents who wish to apply to the School under Special Circumstances should complete Form SC19 obtainable from AQE, and attach it with appropriate documentary evidence, as detailed below, to the Transfer Form.
  • All decisions of the Subcommittee will be defined as the ‘decision of the Board of Governors in relation to Special Circumstances’.  Parents/Guardians should be aware that in accordance with the Department of Education regulations (Circular 1995/22) in regard to Special Circumstances – ‘the ultimate responsibility for decisions on admissions rests with the Secondary School of the parents’ choice’.

Details of Medical or Other Problems

Where it is claimed that a candidate’s performance in the CEA has been affected by a medical or other problem, it is the responsibility of the parents to set out in the Form SC15 precise details of the problem and append independent evidence to corroborate its existence.

Where the problem is a medical one of short term duration which affected the candidate only at the time of the CEA, the School will require the production of evidence that the candidate was examined by a qualified medical practitioner in relation to the illness at the time of the CEA.

Where the problem is of a non-medical nature the parents should append appropriate independent evidence.

Educational Evidence

This is based on the score achieved in the CEA.

In respect of educational evidence the parent is expected to secure from the Principal of the Primary School evidence of the child’s performance as compared with the performance of peers of a similar level together with the AQE scores allocated to these pupils.  Objective documentary evidence, which should be verified, must be provided by the parents together with the Transfer Form at the time of application.  This should include where they exist, the results for the pupil of any standardised tests conducted in Year 5, Year 6 and Year 7 and the results in any end of year tests in English and Mathematics.

It would be useful for the school to have additional comparative information from the Primary School.  This should include the results (without names) for other candidates in the pupil’s Year 7 class of any standardised tests conducted in Year 5, Year 6 and Year 7 and the results in any end of year tests in English and Mathematics.

A Subcommittee of Governors will consider the application for Special Circumstances.  Where Special Circumstances are accepted, the Subcommittee will then determine, on the basis of the information available, a score for the candidate. This is achieved by using Polynomial and Linear trendlines which will predict, as far as is reasonably practical, a score for consideration by the Subcommittee.  Such candidates will then be considered with all other candidates who have received a CEA score, applying the Admission Criteria.  The Subcommittee is not prepared to upgrade children solely on the basis of a statement made but not corroborated such as ‘we expected this child to achieve a top score in the Common Entrance Test’.

Special Provisions

Special Provisions apply to:

  1. Children whose parents wish them to transfer to grammar schools from schools outside Northern Ireland.
  1. Children who have received more than half their primary education outside Northern Ireland.
  1. Children, entered for the CEA, who because of unforeseen and serious medical or other problems, were unable to participate in any of the assessments.

The existence of Special Provisions must be supported by documentary evidence.

In considering claims for Special Circumstances or Special Provisions, Form SC15 has been developed to assist parents in making such an application.  Claims for Special Provision should be made on Form SC19 and attached to the Transfer Form. All decisions with regard to Special Circumstances and Special Provisions are the sole responsibility of the Board of Governors of the Royal School. It is the parents responsibility to apply on behalf of their son/daughter and to gather and present the relevant information for attachment to the Transfer Form.

In making a claim, the parents have to obtain educational evidence relating to the performance of their child and in comparison with the performance of his/her peers. Primary School Principals are in the best position to assist in the provision of this information. In providing the comparative data for the other pupils in the class, no names should be given, except for that of the pupil for whom the application is being made.

A Subcommittee of Governors will consider the application for Special Provision.  Where this is accepted, the following procedure will apply:

    1. The School will consider any assessment information and may choose to commission an independent assessment of the pupil’s ability in English, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning.
  • A Subcommittee of Governors will determine, on the basis of all the available assessment information, an appropriate score for the candidate.The candidate will then be considered with all other candidates who have received a CEA score, applying the Admissions Criteria.All decisions of the Subcommittee will be defined as the “opinion of the Board of Governors in relation to Special Circumstances” or the “opinion of the Board of Governors in relation to Special Provisions”, whichever is relevant. It should be noted that a Special Need is not a Special Circumstance.

Duty to Verify

Please note that the Department of Education guidance (Circular 2009/07) states:-

“the provision of false or incorrect information or the failure to provide information within the deadlines set by post-primary schools can result in the withdrawal of a place and the inability to offer a place on the part of any school nominated on the applicant’s Transfer Form”.

Applicants should note that the Board of Governors reserves the right to require such supplementary evidence as it may determine to support or verify the information contained within a Transfer Form.  The provision of false or incorrect information or the failure to provide verifying documents according to the required deadline may result in either the withdrawal of a place or the inability of the school to offer a place.

If you state within your Transfer Form information that is decisive in qualifying a candidate for admission, then that information will be verified.

If it is found to be incorrect, then any place offered because of it will be withdrawn.

Waiting List Policy

If a vacancy arises and is to be filled during Year 8 the next applicant on the original transfer list rank order will be contacted.  This list does not transfer automatically into applications for other year groups.

For applications for a place in years other than Year 8 parents must complete and return the Application for Admission form, available on www.royalschool.com

Year Admissions No Total Applications All Preferences Total Admissions
2012/2013 100 125* 103
2013/2014 100 124* 102
2014/2015 100 118* 103
2015/2016 100 151 100

(*includes boarding applications)


YEARS 9 – 12 

  1. Should a place become available, the Headmaster will, on behalf of the Board of Governors, seek reassurance from objective evidence that the applicant is well-matched to the pace and nature of the curriculum offered by the school. This objective evidence will include:

(i)    Statements of performance from the applicant’s existing school e.g.

Recent formal school reports
Written or verbal reports from the Principal


(ii)  Statements of ability from the applicant’s previous schools


(iii)  Other suitable indicators of performance.

  1. Pupils will be admitted to the school within numerical limitations i.e.

(i)    Within the enrolment capacity of the school

(ii)   Within a numerical maximum for each year group.

This maximum will vary from Year to Year and will take account of the existing staffing structure and maximum sizes of class groupings of that year group.

In the event that places within a particular year group are limited and there are more applications than places, secondary considerations will be given to:-

  1. Sibling’s relationships
  2. The children of former pupils
  3. Special aptitudes of pupils
  4. Free school meal entitlement
  5. Geographical proximity of the pupil’s home, although the school will continue its tradition of accepting pupils from a wide geographical area.



Pupils who are entering the Sixth Form from other schools must obtain a minimum of thirteen points.

The size of the Sixth Form intake is determined by the Headmaster and other senior staff within the context of the school’s overall enrolment number as set by The Department of Education.  The number of places available to pupils from other schools is dependent on the number of ‘internal’ pupils returning to the Sixth Form and places to ‘external’ pupils are normally awarded on a competitive basis, based on their overall points score. Those with a higher points score will be allocated a place before those with a lower points score, subject to places being available in their chosen subjects.

While every effort is made to allow pupils to follow their preferred subjects this depends on timetable and class size constraints.

All applicants for places in Sixth Form must provide evidence from their former school that they have a good disciplinary and attendance record.  All applicants must have taken GCSEs.

It is important that the school is able to offer a Sixth Form course of study which corresponds to the aspirations of the applicant and is also accessible in terms of his or her academic ability. Entrance to the Sixth Form depends upon performance in normal timetabled GCSE.

Whether the applicant is from the Royal School or another school, the minimum requirement for entry in September 2020 will be:

  1. At least FIVE subjects in GCSE with grade C or better.
  2. A minimum of 10 points where:                  A* = 4 points                      A = 3 points                      B = 2 points                         C = 1 point
  3. At least B grade level in any AS subject chosen, or in a related subject;
  4. (Note that for any AS subject taken “ab initio” in Lower Sixth (beginner), the individual subject requirements must be satisfied.)
  5. The school can provide a viable course of study consisting of at least:
  • FOUR AS subjects, or
  • THREE AS subjects plus one or more Key Skills N.B. ALL CRITERIA MUST BE SATISFIED If the School is oversubscribed then priority will be given to pupils already attending the school, providing they satisfy the above criteria.If a subject is oversubscribed, (as determined by the Headmaster, DE guidelines or school management), initial priority will be given to students who make the subject choice by the date when Option Forms have to be returned. The final places in a class for Lower VI will be given to those who have:
  1. Higher ‘Uniform Mark Scores’ in the subject to be studied;
  2. Higher overall points score should UMS be equal.Variations :
    1. An application from a pupil outside the Northern Ireland system will be assessed on the academic evidence provided, using whatever comparability formula is available.
  • If there are Special Circumstances which can be demonstrated to have affected performance in GCSE and have not been already recognised by the relevant examination board, there may be a reduction in the basic requirement, provided criterion 4 is met.
  • If there are exceptional pastoral circumstances, as determined by the School, e.g. illness, bereavement or ‘learning needs’ then the applicant may be allowed a reduction in the basic requirement.
  • In the case of points 2 and 3 above, appropriate documentation should be provided before the end of the Trinity Term (Summer).
  • A Sixth Form Entrance Committee will be convened on the afternoon of the day the results are issued.
  • The disciplinary and attendance records of Royal School, Armagh students will be considered even if they have reached the academic criteria listed above. A period of suspension from school in Year 12 and/or an attendance rate below the EWO threshold of 85% will trigger such consideration and may result in a place not being made available in Lower Sixth Form. Students applying from schools other than Royal School, Armagh within Northern Ireland:
    1. Are invited to attend the Open Night on Wednesday 20 January 2016.
  • Must meet the same academic criteria as Royal School Armagh pupils.
  • Places will be awarded subject to the DE addendum (see below).The Department of Education may, in response to a request from a school, increase the number of pupils that the school can admit to its Sixth Form. Places that become available in this way shall be allocated only to pupils who meet the basic eligibility criteria for Sixth Form study (as above) and shall be allocated in the order determined by the criteria to be applied in the order set down.
    1. Pupils who have most recently completed Year 12 in the Royal School, Armagh.
  • Pupils from other schools where admission to an extra place at Royal School, Armagh has been agreed by the Department of Education.**Parents should note how the Department of Education (DE) will, in response to a school’s request, increase the school’s enrolment number in order to allow an extra post-16 pupil to enrol. DE will only increase the school’s enrolment number if it is content that each external pupil for whom a place is requested would not be able to pursue their post-16 course choices at a suitable school without undertaking an unreasonable journey (i.e. a journey that by public transport would be over an hour from where the young person lives). If DE finds that no other suitable school may provide all of the post-16 courses that a pupil wishes to pursue – then DE will agree a school’s request for an extra place.What is a school of a type that is suitable for a pupil? To determine this, DE first considers all schools to be one of four types: (i) denominational (ii) non-denominational (iii) Integrated and (iv) Irish-Medium. A school requesting an extra place for a post-16 pupil will belong to one of these four types and DE will consider any other school from this same type as suitable for the pupil. DE will also consider as suitable for the pupil any school of the same type as that attended by the child in Year 12. NOTES FOR ALL APPLICANTS:-It is essential to note that an application to attend the Royal School, Armagh indicates that there is an acceptance of all school regulations and there is a willingness to observe them by each applicant and their parent(s) or guardian(s).