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Pledge to parents on nursery allocations

By Rebecca Black

Published 30/05/2015

The Department of Education has vowed to help the parents of the 39 pre-school children who have not yet managed to secure a nursery place.

There were almost 450 more funded places allocated this year than last year.

However, one north Belfast woman has criticised the process.

Melanie Gaston's child was not placed in the first round of offers.

She was offered a list of alternative nurseries, but said her child's chances were reduced because the selection criteria used to place children prioritises those on benefits. Ms Gaston now fears she will not get a funded place.

"We work hard and earn an average salary, and like every other working household could do without the extra expense," she said.

"While the education board did provide a list of alternative nurseries that may be able to consider our daughter for a place this only angers me further as the selection criteria for each inevitably reduces any likelihood and prompts the perception that my daughter is simply another statistic in a departmental evaluation process."

Education Minister John O'Dowd said that more than 99.8% (23,400) of children have been placed in a pre-school of choice. Parents and guardians were advised today of the outcome of their application for a funded place at stage two of the pre-school admissions process.

Mr O'Dowd said this year some 23,909 applications were received for pre-school places, up almost 2% on last year. Almost 450 more funded places were allocated this year.

"I have provided sufficient funding to meet the growth in demand for pre-school places," he said.

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