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.