Castlereagh Councillor Judith Cochrane stated: “Due to positive changes to tackle the problem of oversubscription, the deadline for application for nursery places has moved to 12 January 2011 at noon, around a week earlier than previously. Naomi Long MP and I had suggested some simple changes to the Minister which could be made to ensure the admissions process would prioritise those children in their final pre-school year. We were delighted that the Minister last year accepted these proposals, and we have been campaigning to tackle the issue of oversubscription for pre-school places for a long time.
“There is now a two stage process regarding applications. Parents whose children have been unable to gain a place at the first stage will subsequently 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.
“I am a mum with a child due to start pre-school in September 2011, and many people still have concerns about the lack of information for parents in relation to the application process. This makes things especially difficult for parents who are applying for the first time. It’s of paramount importance that the Department of Education ensures that the process delivers effectively for everyone and ensures that the system is easy to access. Every child deserves the best start in life and I believe pre-school education is a key element of this. “