Grammar school place uplift still nowhere near sufficient for South Belfast, says Bradshaw

Alliance South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw has welcomed news Wellington College will be able to take more pupils for the next school year, but warned plans are nowhere near sufficient to meet rising demand in the constituency.

Ms Bradshaw stated: “Clearly, it is welcome Wellington College will be able to admit more pupils, as will some schools close to the constituency boundary which may be able to serve pupils from South Belfast. However, incredibly, the overall plans in fact leave fewer post-primary places available within the South Belfast constituency.

“The plans are therefore nowhere near sufficient to meet rising demand for school places. The growing school-age population means the required number of places is now rising by over 100 places, more than 10 per cent every year. That the trend was pointing in this direction has been clear for years, and yet action in terms of provision of school places has lagged far behind. We are now at the stage where some pupils are not being place at all, far less attaining a place at their preferred school.

“The Education Authority’s plans with regard to South Belfast continue to lack urgency. In the medium term this will require a fundamental reassessment of the whole transfer system. However, in the immediate short term it is essential the Minister now gets a grip and recognises the need to increase provision dramatically in South Belfast.”