Belfast Telegraph

Fury at priority status for nursery school places

By Patrice Dougan

Children with parents on unemployment benefit have been given priority status for nursery school places.

The news has angered the 1,500 parents in Northern Ireland who still do not know where, or if, their children have qualified for a nursery or pre-school place.

It emerged that children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds were being offered a disproportionately high number of places.

Frustrated parents were reported as claiming they were being “victimised” and “penalised for being normal” after receiving letters last week telling them their applications were unsuccessful.

Government figures show that 43% of full-time nursery places were awarded to children entitled to free school meals in 2011/12. This was a rise from 39% and 29% in the previous two years.

Under current guidelines, when a pre-school gets more applications than it can take it must prioritise families on income support or jobseekers allowance.

The second priority goes to children born in July and August.

But, in January Education Minister, John O’Dowd, announced a review of this practice.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph