Pre-school places problem persists in area

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Local politicians have spoken out about the ongoing problem of a lack of pre-school places after many local parents were left disappointed.

DUP Cllr and Upper Bann Assembly candidate Carla Lockhart has said that she will be fighting for additional nursery places in the Donaghcloney and wider area because of the number of disappointed parents following the release of places on Friday past.

She said: “Once again we have experienced a raft of disappointed parents in the area. There are particular pressure points namely the Donaghalconey, Waringstown area and it has caused great distress for families who had hoped their child would get placed in one of their local school nurseries.

“There needs to be further assistance given to parents and families when applying so as not to build expectations and there needs to be a rethink on the departmental criteria and how it is applied.

“A particular case for me going forward will be to try and extend the hours available in the Waringstown Nursery because at present it is part-time and yet the facility is available for full time usage.

Local Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate Jo-Anne Dobson has said that ‘year on year’ Education Minister John O’Dowd has been failing parents and children when it comes to the allocation of funded pre-school places.

“For many years now it has become abundantly clear that the current system of allocating funded pre-school places has simply not been working,” she said.

“Now that John O’Dowd has confirmed that he will not take up this Ministerial Role after the election change may well be coming!

“I noticed last week that the Sinn Fein Education Minister ‘welcomed’ the first stage of the pre-school admissions process. How anyone could welcome a process which so clearly discriminates against working parents beggars belief!

“The first rung of the ‘Educational Ladder’ is broken and it is beholden on all of us to ensure that every child and family is treated with fairness and equality.”