Admission criteria for

September 2021

In recent years the Transfer Test - either the AQE or GL (PPTC) version has been used as part of the admissions policy for entry into year 8. In 2020 the Transfer Test did not take place and so this school has developed new criteria for entry into Year 8 in September 2021.


These criteria can vary greatly from school to school and you should make yourself aware of all the criteria details as they will determine which children will be admitted to this school in September 2021.


Make sure that you provide the school with all the information that they require as the school will use the information that you provide when making their decision about which children are admitted in September 2021.

The Royal School Armagh


The Royal School Armagh 

Voluntary Grammar 

Non-Denominational Boys and Girls 

College Hill 


BT61 9DH 

Telephone: 028 3752 2807 



Headmaster: Mr G.G.W. Montgomery BA, PGCE, PQH(NI)

Chairman of the Board of Governors: The Rev. E.P Gamble (Acting)


Our Open Evening will be virtual this year and prospective pupils, parents and guardians should visit the School website and view the virtual Open Evening. Details of how to register will be posted on our website in early February 2021. 

Age Range: 4-19 

Boarding and Day Admissions Number: 100 

Enrolment Number: 650 



The Royal School, Armagh (“the School”) is a voluntary grammar school for boys and girls offering a wide-ranging curriculum of academic courses. The School has a rich history, having been founded in 1608 by King James 1, and is proud of its reputation and the successes of generations of young people. 

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. 


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


Entrance Test 

Due to the disruption of the education provision for Primary 7 pupils, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Board of Governors of the Royal School, Armagh will apply the Admissions Criteria detailed in Section B to select candidates applying for entry to Year 8 in 2021. The criterion will be applied in order of priority for those children who have applied to sit the AQE assessment. 


Fees and Charges 

From September 1990 parents of all pupils admitted to the Royal School, Armagh (except in the case of pupils who are not resident in Northern Ireland and who are non E.U. nationals) will not be required to pay Tuition Fees. (Capital and consolidation fees still apply). A Capital Fee (currently £140 per annum) and a Consolidated Charge (currently £175 per annum) are charged in regard to all pupils. 

Respective Functions of the Board of Governors and Principal in Relation to Admissions to the School. 

In the event that the number of applications for admission into Year 8 exceeds the stated “Admission Number” of the School, the Headmaster, on behalf of the Board of Governors, will apply the admission criteria for at least 85 day school places. The remaining places up to the Admissions Number of 100 will consist of boarding pupils. 


A. Definitions 


“Applicant” means the parent or guardian who completes and uploads the Transfer Application on behalf of the candidate; 

“Brother or sister” means children who have both parents in common or children who reside with the same family in the candidate’s Normal Home Address (including foster children and step brothers and sisters living with the candidate at his or her Normal Home Address); 

“Candidate” means the child who is stated on the Transfer Application as seeking to gain admission to the School; 

“Eldest child” means a candidate who, at the date of application, is the eldest child of the family to be eligible to apply for admission to the School; 

“Normal Home Address” means the candidate’s permanent home address at the date of application. This should be where the parent and candidate live and where the candidate spends the majority of the school week (Monday to Friday including nights). Where the candidate lives with parents with shared responsibility, it is for the parents to determine which address is to be used; 

“Parent or guardian” means a person who, at the date of application, has legal responsibility for the candidate; 


It should be noted that the Board of Governors will not use as a criterion the position of preference given to the school by the applicant on the Transfer Application. Therefore, an applicant who has listed Royal School, Armagh as a second or subsequent preference school will be considered in the same way as those who have placed this school first on the list, where the applicant does not secure admission to his/her first preference school. The Board of Governors will apply the following criteria, subject to the overriding criterion that priority will be given to pupils normally resident in Northern Ireland. 

B. Admission Criteria 

The Royal School Armagh will apply the following admissions criteria for admissions in September 2021 for candidates who applied to sit the Association for Quality Education (AQE) Common Entrance Assessment (CEA). 


(i) candidates who applied to sit the Association for Quality Education (AQE) Common Entrance Assessment (CEA) and continued to be enrolled to sit the Test on 9 January 2021; 

If the number of candidates who meet criterion (i) is greater than the number of places available the following criteria will be applied in order until the enrolment number is reached:- 


(ii) candidates enrolled in the School’s Preparatory Department on 1 September 2019 and who continue to be enrolled on 31 May 2021; 

(iii) candidates with a brother or sister of the family currently enrolled in the School’s Secondary Department (details to be supplied); 

(iv) candidates who are the eldest child of the family to be eligible for admission in September 2021 (details to be supplied); 

(v) candidates who have a parent or guardian currently employed by the School for a continuous minimum period of one year at the date of transfer; 

(vi) 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); 

(vii) candidates who attend any of the local primary schools which have contributed pupils to the School in the last five years: Armstrong, Ballydown, Birches, Bocombra, Christian Brothers' Armagh, Churchill, Clare, Cloughoge, Cortamlet, Derryhale, Donacloney, Drumhillery, Edenderry (Portadown), Hamiltonsbawn, Hardy Memorial, Killylea, Kingsmills, Lisnadill, Markethill, Millington, Mt. St. Catherine's, Mullaglass, Mullavilly, Orchard County, Our Lady's & St Mochua's Derrynoose, Portadown Integrated, Poyntzpass, Royal School Armagh Preparatory Department, Saints and Scholars, Seagoe, St Brendan’s Craigavon, St. Malachy's Armagh, The Cope, Tandragee, Windsor Hill. 

(viii) Candidates who are entitled to Free School Meals*; 

(ix) Candidates who do not currently have a brother or sister of the family currently enrolled in the School’s Secondary Department but have a sibling who has attended the School’s Secondary Department up to at least GCSE level (name and date of attendance to be supplied); 

(x) if in the event of a tie for a remaining place or places, which is not resolved by the application of the above criteria, then the Board of Governors will select the remaining candidate(s) using computerised random selection. The computerised random selection process, as determined by the Board of Governors, will be overseen by a representative from the Board of Governors. 

* ‘Entitled to Free School Meals’ will mean candidates who are listed on the Education Authority register as entitled to Free School Meals at the date on which their parent or guardian has signed their post-primary Transfer Application, or at any date up to and including 12th April 2021 (no later than 4 p.m.) 

If, following the application of criteria (i) to (x) 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 applied to sit 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 above criteria. 

(Please ensure that the relevant information is stated on the Transfer Application. The School emphasises that it is the responsibility of those completing the Transfer Application to notify where the above criteria apply, and to furnish all relevant details. When considering which children should be selected for admission, the Board of Governors will only take into account information which is detailed on or uploaded with the Transfer Application. Parents should therefore ensure that all information pertaining to their child and relevant to the school’s admissions criteria is stated on the Transfer Application or uploaded with it.) 


C. Special Provisions 

Parents/guardians who wish to apply to the Royal School, Armagh under Special Provisions should complete Form SP20, obtainable from the School, citing the reason why they believe their child is eligible for consideration under Special Provisions. Please note that parents/guardians are required to upload this Form with their online application together with all such material that they consider necessary to assist the Subcommittee of Governors in determining if Special Provisions apply. 

Special Provisions apply to candidates in any of the following categories and who, as a consequence, did not register to sit the AQE CEA: 

(a) children currently educated outside Northern Ireland and whose parents/guardians are moving to Northern Ireland and wish them to transfer to grammar schools from schools outside Northern Ireland OR 

(b) children who moved to Northern Ireland after the conclusion of the AQE registration process on 9 October 2020 OR 

(c) children who have received more than half their primary education outside Northern Ireland and for whom there were specific reasons why they were not registered to sit the AQE CEA. 


Parents/guardians who are applying for Special Provisions must do so by 16 March 2021. Using the information provided a Subcommittee of Governors will determine whether Special Provisions applies. If it does, the Subcommittee of Governors will consider the application for Special Provision Admissions before the application of any of the admissions criteria. Where Special Provisions are accepted, the child will be considered under criteria 

(iii) to (x) of the admissions criteria with all other applicants also considered at that stage. 


Duty to Verify 

Please note that Department of Education guidance (Circular 2013/24) 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 Application”. 

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 Application. 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 Application 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. Should a vacancy arise after 18th June 2021 all applications for admission to Year 8 that were initially refused, new applications, late applications and applications where new information has been provided will be treated equally and the published criteria applied. This waiting list will be in place until 30th June 2022. 

The school will contact you in writing if your child gains a place in the school by this method. 

Your child’s name will be automatically added to the list. Please contact the school if you wish for your child’s name to be removed from the list. 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 Application, available on 





Year     2018/19 

Admissions No      100

Total Applications All Preferences     136*

Total Admissions     103**


Year     2019/20 

Admissions No      100

Total Applications All Preferences     126*

Total Admissions     102**


Year     2020/21 

Admissions No      100

Total Applications All Preferences     148*

Total Admissions     104** 

(*includes boarding applications, ** Includes those pupils admitted through the Exceptional Circumstances Body or Independent Appeals Tribunal and those admitted with a statement of educational need) 


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 and/or 

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


(iii) the applicants score obtained in the Common Entrance Assessment (“the CEA”) provided by the Association for Quality Education (“the AQE”). 


(iv) Other suitable indicators of performance. 

2. 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:- 

(i) Sibling’s relationships 

(ii) The children of former pupils 

(iii) Special aptitudes of pupils 

(iv) Free school meal entitlement 

(v) 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 must obtain a minimum of ten GCSE 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. Places are normally awarded to ‘external’ pupils 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. Please note that only in exceptional circumstances will new students be admitted to Upper Sixth. 

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 2021 will be: 

1. At least FOUR subjects in GCSE (including Mathematics and English) with grade C or better, and which would allow for appropriate progression. 

2. A minimum of 10 points where: 

A* = 5 points A = 4 points B = 3 points C * = 2 points C = 1 point 

3. At least B grade level in any AS subject chosen, or in a related subject; 

(Note that for any AS subject taken “ab initio” in Lower Sixth (beginner), the individual subject requirements must be satisfied.) 

4. The school can provide a viable course of study consisting of at least: 

. THREE AS subjects, or equivalent 


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: 

(i) Higher ‘Uniform Mark Scores’ in the subject to be studied; 

(ii) 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. 

2. 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. 

3. 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. 

4. In the case of points 2 and 3 above, appropriate documentation should be provided before the end of the Trinity Term (Summer). 

5. A Sixth Form Entrance Committee will be convened on the afternoon of the day the results are issued. 

6. 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. Must meet the same academic criteria as Royal School Armagh pupils. 

2. Will have places 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 will be allocated only to pupils who meet the basic eligibility criteria for Sixth Form study (as above) and will 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. 

2. 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. 


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). 

** This information is provided for guidance only and while the content is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate we cannot be held in any way responsible for any errors or omissions that it may contain. Please contact your LA or chosen grammar school for all admission and Transfer Test queries.**