Rogers Says School Over-Subscription Must Be Addressed
SDLP Education spokesperson Sean Rogers has said that the Department of Education must address the chronic over-subscription of primary schools and recognise the impact this has on rural communities.
Speaking during an Assembly debate on the issue on Tuesday 5 November, Mr Rogers said: “The over-subscription of primary school places and accessible nursery school places is unfortunately no stranger to many areas of Northern Ireland.
“This year, like in others, many parents have been distressed to be informed by the Department of Education that their child was being denied their first-preference place. These parents are now concerned that their child will have to travel a significant distance to secure a place in an acceptable school.
“In many cases, these children have been rejected by one, two or three schools closer to home that would and should have been physically, mentally and emotionally much more convenient for the parents and the child.
“Rural areas undeniably suffer disproportionately; the problem is intensified with the lack of transport and the distance between primary schools. This is something that affects all sectors- Maintained, Controlled and Integrated.
“The CCMS, Department of Education and the Boards continue to fail to respond in a strategic or long-term way. We need a joined up approach between all these agencies. While that failure is allowed to continue, oversubscription and excessive demand for school places will be an even bigger problem year on year across Northern Ireland.
“We need a strategic approach that takes on board all the latest data both census and church so that we can manage our school estate more effectively. Especially in rural areas we must ensure our children can attend their local primary school; we must provide a sustainable and fair solution to this annually recurring problem.”