Judith Cochrane MLA said: “Pre-school provision in East Belfast and right across Northern Ireland is a topic that causes much frustration. We hear about the problems parents face at the school gate, via our constituency offices and in the media on an annual basis, yet we have still not managed to resolve them.
“Every child deserves the best start in life and although pre-school education is a non-compulsory phase, its benefits cannot be overstated. Research has shown that children who attend high-quality pre-school settings are better prepared for primary school and learn more quickly than those who do not. It also shows that children who have attended pre-school are more sociable, confident and independent than their peers who have not.
“I have carried out some surveying across my constituency on this issue and the message coming back to me is clear – Parents do not see pre-school provision as childcare. It is the start of a child’s formal educational pathway and this is why parents take it so seriously.
“It is therefore imperative that we get the provision right and that is why I have been campaigning on the issue for a long time.
“If we want our children to avail of a high-quality pre-school education then surely the best way to do this is to ensure there are enough places to meet demand and that all places are high-quality.”