More than 1,000 youngsters fail to get a pre-school place
More than 1,000 children have been left without a funded pre-school place, the Department of Education has revealed.
Parents and guardians of children who have applied for a funded pre-school place will find out this morning if they have been successful.
The department said around 95% of children whose parents applied for a place will have secured one in one of their preferred settings. There were more than 23,600 applications this year, up almost 2% or almost 400 on last year.
With 95% gaining a place, this means that around 1,180 children were not successful.
They must now face a nervous wait until the end of May to find out if they have been successful in the second stage of the process.
The department, headed by John O'Dowd, has advised applicants to list a number of preferences across the range of providers at stage two in order to maximise their chances of securing a place for their child.
Letters advising of the outcome of this second stage of the application process will be issued to parents on May 29.
A spokesperson for the department said it has planned for the increased demand for pre-school places.
"At this stage of the admissions process almost 500 more funded places have been allocated than at this time last year," she said.
"The department has provided sufficient funding to meet the growth in demand for pre-school places and the education authority continues to work closely with pre-school providers to secure sufficient places in local areas.
"It is important to note that this is only stage one of the process and those parents or guardians whose child remains unplaced will be invited to submit further preferences and proceed into stage two of the process.
"For 2012/13 and 2013/14 admissions, 99.8% of children whose parents stayed with the admissions process received the offer of a funded pre-school place: the figure rose to 99.9% for the 2014/15 school year."
The letter parents and guardians will receive includes a list of pre-school settings with funded places available in their area and an application form on which parents should list preferences.
The department spokesperson said: "This is not to suggest that all these locations will be suitable options for parents to consider; rather it is provided to help parents to choose further preferences."