Parents' anger over nursery decisions

Published Tuesday, 10 April 2012
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Children whose parents are on unemployment benefits have been given priority places at nursery schools in Northern Ireland.

But around 1,500 adults in the region still do not know where, or if, their children will be placed.

Four nursery schools have said they do not have room for Logan Archer, and his mother has spoken out against the current system for favouring those from low income families.

"That gives even younger children preference over my child," said Lee Ann Archer. "I feel that's wrong.

"All children should be treated fairly."

In the South Eastern Education and Library Board area, more than 350 children do not have a place at nursery school, while in Belfast 240 children have missed out.

The shakeup to the preschool admission system was revealed earlier this year and it has left many parents angry.

But Siobhan Fitzpatrick of Early Years said improved provisions are being made for the future.

"There are some pressure points, but we've been able to bring in new nursery school providers for next year," she explained.

In January, the Education Minister said he had added £1.25m to the £50m preschool education budget and John O'Dowd has reiterated that extra cash can be made available if needed.

But Chair of the Education Committee, Mervyn Storey said that is not enough and the policy may discourage employment.

"Many hard-working families are struggling to make ends meet. When they are faced with discriminatory policies such as this they will understandably question the value of being in work.

"This is a bad policy and the Department should move with urgency to address it," he urged.

© UTV News
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24 Comments
M from Belfast in Belfast wrote (373 days ago):
My youngest didn't get into any nurserys we selected, she has an older sibling at the primary school of our first choice nursery, didnt count for anything, my husband and I both work and needed them both at the same school so that family members who live close by could collect them for us! The other places "still" available are well out of distance from our eldests school, we are expected to get to two different schools and then to work on time, and we may work but we are on low incomes with a mortgage, childcare is out of the question as its so expensive, I, like a lot of parents in the same position am disgusted, where's the sense in all of this, what's the point in working if it's a discrimination in today's society??
Deborah Anderson in Belfast wrote (726 days ago):
I am principal of a 26 place nursery school in North Belfast. Each year we are very oversubscribed and we have to turn away children within 5 minutes walk from the school. This year, a week after the application process closed, we were turned down in our application for additional places by the Department of Education. One of the reasons given was that voluntary and private providers in the area had the capacity to expand and take the extra children. Is this where any additional funding will be going to?
GARY in NEWTOWNABBEY wrote (727 days ago):
WELL HERE WE GO AGAIN SAME THING HAPPENED TO US LAST YEAR NOW THIS YEAR AGAIN CANT GET ARE KIDS IN TO NUSERY BECAUSE EVER 1 WHO DOESNT GET OUT OF THERE BEDS IN THE MORNING LIKE NORMAL WORKING PEOPLE CAN MANAGE TO GET THERE KIDS IN TO NUSERY .TO SUM THINGS UP I LEFT MY JOB TODAY AND MY PARTNER IS ALSO LEAVING HERE JOB SO THAT WE CAN GET WHAT WE WANT FROM THIS BACK TO FRONT GOVERNMENT SORT IT OUT FOR THE FUTURE OF N.I
Suzanne Storrie in Belfast wrote (733 days ago):
I've just read all the comments following mine last week and as much as I don't want anyone to be in the same position as me, with my son not getting a nursery place, it's reassuring to know that we are not alone in this set up and with our views, that as working parents we are being discriminated against for doing so. Why should we be penalised for working, paying taxes and our mortgage, therefore contributing to society and the economy, while we receive no advantages/benefits for doing so. The first criteria in nursery selection process needs to change to working parents get priority. Is this not more incentive for people on benefits to go get a job if they know you need to work to secure a nursery place! It's common sense to me. The government systems are allowing these people not to work as they're better off being on benefits! How is this a fair society! My only positive in this whole thing is throughout it all my son is none the wiser and that he too with his younger brothers will grow up with good morals and values, that your parents work to give them what they have like my parents did for me....a nursery place would be nice as well thank you x
It gets worse! in derry wrote (735 days ago):
If you think it's bad this year wait until next year. In Sept 2013 they are planning to change the rules so that not only those on benefit will get priority but also those from the travelling comunity and those who do not speak the same language as the teacher (ie English) - so I expect there will quite a few more disappointed people in the next few years. Unbelievable.
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