The family are just one of many in the Moira and Lisburn areas who have been struggling to secure places for their children at nearby primary schools.
Last week they learnt that, because schools in the Moira and Lisburn areas are heavily oversubscribed, their eldest son had not been given a place at the family’s first choice - Moira Primary.
“We both work full time, have lived in Moira village for ten years and it has always been our intention to send our children to Moira Primary School,” explained the mother. “When the children were only months old we phoned Moira Primary School and put their names down.”
Despite this planning, the couple were unable to secure a pre-school place in Moira for their eldest child in 2011, and are now distressed that they cannot secure a primary school place for him either. Not only that, the family were also unable to secure a pre-school place for their youngest son this year.
“Between our two sons this is three times we have been declined a suitable pre-school place,” she continued. “Surely this begs the question whether more pre-school places are required in the Moira area?
“We could not believe this was happening – from the first phone call to the school when my sons were babies to all the subsequent conversations we had never been lead to believe there would be a problem and we most certainly would not have prepared our son for only one school.
“What is unanswered for us is how can the education board not have foreseen this? Birth records and the previous year’s pre-school numbers surely were indicators.”
Throughout the application process, for both pre-school and primary places, she was reassured that places would be available for her sons and both had been looking forward to starting their new school in September.
To add to the distress of the family, a mix up at the SEELB meant they were informed that their eldest son had been allocated to a school to which he did not apply.
“How can this have happened when we didn’t request a place in this school?” questioned his mother. “If the system is so tight and the criteria is followed so strictly to place children how can this have happened?”
Following a conversation with the SEELB their son was re-allocated to another primary school outside Moira. However, for the family this is far from an ideal solution. “As working parents we also have the subject of childminding to consider,” explained his mother. “Thinking our children would be in pre-school and school in Moira we have a Moira childminder confirmed from this September. Now that arrangement is no longer feasible
“We as a family have been significantly impacted by the current preschool and school application process. We need answers and resolutions to our current position.
“The local government need to take action and realise the stress and upset this is causing to local families,” she concluded.