Rogers Says Pre-school Allocation System Must Be Reviewed


SDLP Education spokesperson SouthDown MLA Seán Rogers has urged the Education Minister to vary the number of free nursery school places available after concerns locally from parents whose children have missed out on their first choice preference.

dn_screenMr Rogers was speaking after it was announced out of more than 23,000 applications, more than 21,000 children had been placed. The parents of children unplaced after this initial selection are being asked to submit further preferences from a list of places still available.

Mr Rogers said: “The Minister must urgently review this matter. Parents whose children are not getting their first choice are being told they will have to travel a considerable distance now, which is crazy and simply unacceptable, especially in rual areas where they are being told they must travel at least 10 miles. The Department of Education must also monitor the allocation of places to see where hotspot patterns are emerging. That would allow officials to plan ahead for the next year and ease potential disappointment.

“It also seems that those who are missing out on their first choice preference are the ‘working poor’. They are being told they will have to incur further expense to get their child to nursery. It doesn’t seem fair, and I urge the minister to review this concerning situation as a matter of urgency.”