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School places crisis: How many lives have you messed with - girl's plea to education chiefs in Northern Ireland

A Co Down girl who missed out on a secondary school place has penned an open letter to Northern Ireland education chiefs asking "how many lives have you messed with".

Last month there was a public outcry after 313 school children were left without a place for the new September term in the Co Down area.

After pressure, including a protest by parents on government officials, the Department of Education made more places available. An additional 40 places were approved at Bangor Academy while another 19 made available at Strangford Integrated College.

Schoolgirl Hannah Bole said she was one of those to miss out and has still not taken up a place for next year. She has been offered places at two schools, however, they are not among her five preferred choices.

The 11-year-old schoolgirl - who is dyslexic - read out an open letter on the BBC Stephen Nolan show. She said she had first put her feelings down on paper in her diary but wanted those in the Department of Education to read the letter.

She spoke of how her emotions were "unbearable" on the day she realised she had missed out after working hard on her transfer test but that she would stay strong for as long as she had to.

"To put any 11-year-old through this is awful - would you put your child through this?" she asked.

"I am not just a name on a page and I will stay strong for as long as I have to.... but you have made my hard times worse.

"I am not just a name on a list I am human and I have feelings too."

Read Hannah's letter to education officials

Dr Sir,

My name is Hannah Ball I am 11 years old and one of the 313 unlucky ones who on the 19th of May did not receive a school.

You offered me two schools Moville and St Columba's but if liked those schools I would have put them on my list. May I add that I had five schools down on my list.

The emotions I felt on Saturday were unbearable, bearing in mind I am only 11 and worked so hard for my AQE despite being dyslexic.

To put any 11-year-old through this is awful - would you put your child through this?

I am not just a name on a page and I will stay strong for as long as I have to.

Just think of how many children's lives you've messed with.

I have two older sisters and growing up watching them go through big school made me excited for the day where I would take that step into big school.

Not just any big school but a school on my list.

And unless you do something I might not have that happy school.

I have been through some hard time like any child but you have made my hard times worse.

My biggest message I want you to know is that I am not just a name on a list, I am human and I have feelings too

Thank you for your time.

Yours faithfully,

Hannah Ball

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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