Belfast Telegraph

Bangor Academy pupils miss out as school plea for extra places rejected

By Rebecca Black

Forty children in Bangor have been left without a place at their preferred secondary school after two requests to extend admission numbers at Bangor Academy were refused.

The school received 387 applications for 242 places in its September 2018 first form class, and estimates that more than 40 local pupils missed out.

Instead they may have to go to schools in Newtownards, Portaferry or Belfast.

"We have done everything we can as a school to request extra places from the Department of Education. We have contacted the permanent secretary, the Education Authority and local MLAs, all to no avail," the school said.

"We have made two official requests for a Temporary Variation in numbers to accommodate the extra places, but both requests have been refused. While the department is operating within the policy, they are not looking at this from a local and common sense perspective. Without an Education Minister in place, there is nobody willing to make a sensible decision in support of local families from Bangor."

Ulster Unionist MLA Alan Chambers said he is seeking a meeting with the department's permanent secretary. He has questioned why Bangor Academy was refused its extension request when two other local schools were granted temporary variations.

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry added: "This is an unprecedented mismatch in terms of the supply and demand of post-primary places."

Across Northern Ireland, around 300 P7 children have not yet been placed at a secondary school.

On Friday, the Education Authority said that when the post primary admissions process concluded on May 18, 22,371 (98.62%) children had been placed, while 1.38% remained unplaced, adding that it is working with families and schools to resolve the issue.

"There were approximately 1,000 more children seeking post primary places for September 2018 than was the case for September 2017 which led, in some areas, to an increased demand for places in certain schools," a spokesperson said.

The Department of Education said: "There are always a number of unplaced children at the end of the post primary admissions process, however, this year there are higher than usual numbers.

"DE will continue to work with the EA in analysing the impact of this year's process and approving additional places where they are needed. DE appreciates the uncertainty and disappointment for some pupils and parents and hopes this can be alleviated in the coming weeks."

Belfast Telegraph

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