Alliance welcomes progress on nursery places

Alliance Councillor Judith Cochrane has welcomed the news that the Education Minister, Catriona Ruane, has taken onboard her proposals and made changes to the nursery admissions process for the incoming academic year. These changes should result in more children in their immediate pre-school year receiving a place at nursery.

Councillor Cochrane stated, “Naomi Long MP and myself have been campaigning on the issue of oversubscription for nursery school places for a long time and had suggested some simple changes that could be made to ensure the admissions process would prioritise those children in their final pre-school year. We are delighted that the Minister has accepted these proposals.

“There will now be a two stage process whereby decisions will be issued at the start of April 2011 for those applications made for children in their final pre-school year.

Parents whose children have been unsuccessful at securing a place at this first stage will then have the opportunity to be considered for other pre-school providers who have vacancies, prior to the applications being processed for those children in their penultimate pre-school year. The decisions for this second stage will be issued at the start of June 2011.”

Naomi Long MP said, “The Minister’s decision to make these changes is a welcome step towards ensuring every child has the opportunity to access one year of pre-school education. There is still more to be done to ensure there is adequate provision and I will continue to campaign on this issue, but improving the application process is a move in the right direction.”

Councillor Cochrane added, “As a mum with a child due to start pre-school in September 2011, I still have concerns about the lack of information provided to parents regarding the application process – especially for those who are negotiating the system for the first time. I will therefore continue to liaise with parents, pre-school providers and the Department of Education to find ways to further improve the process and increase provision, as I believe each child deserves the best start in life and going to nursery is a big part of that.”

Application forms for the 2011-12 year will be available in pre-school settings, primary schools and on the Education and Library Boards’ websites after 3rd December 2010. The closing date for pre-school applications is slightly earlier than in previous years and is 12th January 2011.


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