High School Programme

The High School programme offers young international students the opportunity to live with a carefully selected local host family and attend a local secondary school either in Derry (Northern Ireland) or in Letterkenny (Republic of Ireland). Students can spend between 1 term and 3 terms (full academic year) attending school, supported by our team of coordinators and student mentors.

By living with a family and studying at the local secondary school, students become fluent in another language, open their minds to another culture, make lifelong friends and learn more than ever about themselves and the world around them. 

Programme Overview

  • Full board accommodation with a local host family (breakfast, packed lunch and dinner each day)
  • Enrolment at a local secondary or grammar school
  • Transfer on arrival
  • Welcome orientation and student handbook
  • Support provided by a local Foyle representative
  • Opportunity to do voluntary work

Locations available are: Derry (N. Ireland and UK system) or Letterkenny, Donegal (Rep of Ireland)


Northern Ireland follows the UK education system which is renowned across the world.

The education system in N. Ireland differs slightly from systems elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The main differences are:

  • Point of entry: A child’s age from 1st July determines entry to relevant stage of education, whereas England and Wales this date is 1st September.
  • AS Levels: Sixth form is comprised of two years, which student study for their A Levels. For some subjects, Northern Irish school still sit AS Level exams (first year of sixth form) which counts toward final A Level grade. This is no longer the case in England.
  • Name of school years: In Northern Ireland, the first year of primary school is Year 1/Primary 1, whereas in England, it is called “Reception” and Year 1 afterwards (which is the second year of school)  

Northern Ireland’s results at GCSE and A Levels are consistently top in the UK.

England Northern IrelandAge  
Year 7Year 811-12During the first three years, students take around 11-13 subjects, including Maths, English and Science.
Year 8Year 912-13
Year 9Year 1013-14
Year 10Year 1114-15

GCSE Exams

General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) are taken at the end of Year 12 and students usually take 8-10 subjects, including Maths, English and Science.

Year 11Year 1215-16
Year 12Year 1316-17


Northern Ireland students take AS Level exams (external) which go toward their final A Level grade at the end of Year 13.

A Levels are taken at the end of Year 14, usually across 3 selected subjects, and are required for high school graduation and university entry.

Year 13Year 1417-18


The Irish secondary school system consists of 6 years post-primary education. This is divided into two cycles – Junior and Senior.

Junior certificate is taken after 3 years and students usually study a minimum of 8 subjects.  During the final two years of school students’ study for and take the Leaving Cert exam, required for university entry.




Year 1



Students can take up to 9 subjects. Overseas students can take two core subjects – English and Maths, and then several electives. Students then take the Junior Certificate (External examination) at the end of Year 3

Year 2


Year 3


Year 4



Schools vary but usually students study 12 subjects or more over 3 terms and undertake some work experience.

Year 5



At the end of the two year cycle students take the Leaving Certificate, required for high school graduation and university entry. The Leaving Cert is highly recognised by instituions across the UK, Europe, USA and worldwide.


Year 6