121 children in Lisburn still wait for pre-school places

LAGAN Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has held an urgent meeting with the South Eastern Education and Library Board to discuss the ongoing crisis in local pre-school and primary schools.

In recent weeks many parents in Lisburn have been struggling to find pre-school and primary school places for their children.

According to the most recent figures supplied to Mr Donaldson, there are still 121 children in the Lisburn City Council area who have not been allocated pre-school places. Many of those children, 58 in total, are in the Lisburn North area of the city, where pre-schools have been heavily oversubscribed.

There are also 16 children in the Moira area who have yet to be allocated places. However, Mr Donaldson has said he is confident that the additional places being provided at Little Rays in the village will be able to offer places to all of those children.

It has also been confirmed that the SEELB is in negotiations with another pre-school provider in the city.

Mr Donaldson revealed that there are currently 156 available places in pre-schools in the city, more than enough for the 121 children without a school. However, it is not yet clear where exactly in Lisburn those positions are located.

Local parents have also be struggling to find primary school places for their children for September. The latest figures provided to Mr Donaldson have revealed there are still 21 children in the Lisburn area who have not been allocated P1 places for next year.

Mr Donaldson criticised the Board and the Department for their lack of foresight in managing the crisis, which has caused great distress amongst local parents.

“All in all this situation would have been predictable and the Board and the Department of Education need to do more to look at their strategies and try to predict where the pressures are going to be each year,” said Mr Donaldson.

“This has been a very distressing experience for many parents and children and could be avoided with better planning. I hope the area planning process will help to identify where the need is the greatest and ensure that additional places are provided where the school population is expanding,” he concluded.