Call for more nursery places in city

A mother has been left shocked after being told her daughter has not been given a nursery place in Lisburn for September.

Instead Lyndsey Tavarares was offered a place for her child in Magheraberry, Dundrod or Poleglass.

And Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said he has received a number of calls from anxious parents fearing their children will not get a place this year.

Mr. Donaldson has urged the SEELB and the Education Department to ensure adequate nursery places.

There appears to be a particular shortage in the North Lisburn area.

Mrs. Tavarares said she felt particularly let down when her daughter was unsuccessful at gaining a place at Killowen Nursery Unit.

The self-employed child minder said that the only option offered to her was a nursery place outside Lisburn or be put on a waiting list.

“I am a self employed child minder who currently looks after four other children who attend Killowen,” said Mrs. Tavarares.

“I will now be forced to terminate these contracts as the only nursery unit that has places available is outside Lisburn which I have to reapply to.

“Therefore, I will be unable to do any school pick ups at Killowen if she is successful in gaining a place.

“My daughter will be four-years-old in August and at this moment in time has no nursery place and doesn’t look like she will be getting one in our local area.

“I feel she’s being penalised for being the eldest in our family and I’m now seriously worried about her primary school application.”

Mrs. Tavarares said the play group where her daughter attends had applied for funded places, but was refused. The owners had been told that there was no need for them. “They had 14 parents come asking for places,” she claimed.

She said that her daughter who is currently on a waiting list claims there are also waiting lists for Pond Park and Ballymacash.

“Clearly this proves there is not enough funded places in this area,” she said,

“I believed there would be a funded place for every preschool aged child but it seems you are only entitled if you meet the criteria.

“You have no chance of getting your child a funded place if you work, are married or applying for the first time, leaving these children with out a chance of a getting a nursery education they rightly deserve and entitled to.”

Mr Donaldson said, “We have had a number of approaches from parents within the North Lisburn area who have been unable to secure a nursery place for their child at one of the local units.

“Yet again, some of the nursery units in the North Lisburn area have been over subscribed and some children living close to the school have been unable to secure a place at their local nursery.

“We are raising this issue directly with the SEELB and with the Department of Education to see if more places can become available. Clearly there is a problem with the growing population.”

He said that despite new developments in the area the SEELB have not provided more nursery place.

“Clearly the deficit needs to be addressed and that is what we will be pressing for,” said Mr Donaldson.