Northern Ireland school places crisis: 'My son has been turned down for a place at three schools... I'm at my wits' end,' says Belfast mum
A south Belfast mum has spoken about her devastation after her son was turned down by three schools - and is now fearful over where he will be educated come September.
Terri Bailie's son Tyler (11) had applied to Lagan College, Ashfield Boys School and Forthill College, where many of his friends were also hoping to attend.
But he was not successful with any of these choices.
The Education Authority then offered Tyler a place at a different school.
However, Terri said it was not a viable option as a group of children who had badly bullied her son attended it.
"Tyler was bullied severely, he went through a terrible time, he self-harmed and attempted to take his own life three times, there is no way I will send him to a school where those people are," she told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.
Terri says she was even considering moving house to improve her son's chances, but when she looked at schools in north Belfast, she was still unable to get him a school place.
"I'm at my wits end, and then it's hard for Tyler not getting into a school where all of his friends are going," she said.
Around 300 P7 students have been left without a post-primary school place just three months before the start of the new school year.
Another parent going through the same agony is Glen Dugan from Bangor.
His son Alfie (11) had had his heart set on attending Bangor Academy with all of his friends, and even attends one of the feeder primary schools for it.
Bangor Academy received 387 applications for 242 places in its September 2018 first form class, and it estimates that more than 40 local pupils missed out.
Instead they may have to go to schools in Newtownards, Portaferry or Belfast.
Alfie was shocked last weekend to discover he had not got a place. "We found out on Saturday morning, by text, and then the letter came. We just couldn't believe it," said Glen.
"Alfie was in tears at the idea of going to a school where he won't know anyone.
"Why should he be having to get up at 7am to get a bus to the next school 20 miles away in Portaferry when he could walk to school in Bangor. Mr Pitt, the principal of Bangor Academy, wants to accept the 40 who didn't get placed there, but he is not being allowed to."
The Department of Education has previously said that there are always a number of unplaced children at the end of the post-primary admissions process, although this year there are higher than usual numbers.
A spokesman for the Education Authority said: "EA is continuing to work with schools and parents to ensure all pupils are allocated a Year 8 place.
"Parents of those children who have not been placed are now in the process of selecting preferences from the list of available places.
"Further information is available on the EA website at www.eani.org.uk or from the Admissions Helpdesk on 0300 200 7824."