Problem with pre-school places persists

Jeffrey Donaldson MP
Jeffrey Donaldson MP

Many parents in Lisburn have been left disappointed in the annual scramble for pre-school places according to local MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

This has proven to be a problem in the Lisburn area year after year and Mr Donaldson said he would be seeking an urgent meeting with the new Education Minister after next month’s Assembly election to find a solution to the crisis.

“As soon as a new Education Minister is appointed, I will be seeking an urgent meeting to press for the provision of a new Nursery School or additional nursery places in local primary schools in Lisburn so that we can accommodate all local children who wish to attend such a facility,” said Mr Donaldson, who has been contacted by a number of families in the Lisburn area.

“Yet again we have another year with local parents dismayed to discover that their child is not being offered a pre-school placement at their local primary school.

“We have seen hundreds of new homes built in north Lisburn in recent years and many young families flocking into the city to make their home here.

“Despite this entirely predictable increase in the pre-school population in Lisburn, the Education Authority has still not provided adequate pre-school places in the local primary schools.

“It is simply not good enough to rely on the private sector to provide these additional places through the establishment of new playgroups or the expansion of existing ones.

“Whilst the playgroups provide excellent facilities for pre-school children, we also need to see an increase in the statutory provision of places at local nursery and primary schools.

“Indeed, I would argue that we actually need a new Nursery School in north Lisburn to match the existing provision in the south of the city.

“In addition, the Department of Education continues to operate an admissions policy for pre-school allocations that clearly discriminates against working families.

“It is totally unacceptable that such an outdated policy continues to penalise those families who work hard to provide for their children.

“The current Minister says he is in favour of equality in education but refuses to amend a pre-school admissions policy that openly discriminates against working families.

“It is my fervent hope that the DUP will be able to have this unfair policy repealed in the next Assembly so that all children are treated equally.”