Belfast Telegraph

More than 200 P7 pupils in Northern Ireland yet to receive post-primary places

A total of 226 primary seven pupils have yet to received their post-primary place (PA)
A total of 226 primary seven pupils have yet to received their post-primary place (PA)

More than 200 primary school pupils in Northern Ireland have yet to be placed in a secondary school.

Primary seven pupils found out by letter on Saturday which school they will transfer to.

According to the Education Authority (EA), 226 pupils have yet to be placed.

However, 23,949 pupils (99%) transferring in 2019 have had their place in post-primary education confirmed.

Not all pupils received their first choice school.

The EA have said that 20,776 pupils had received their first choice school, with just under 3,000 pupils placed in a school that was not their first choice.

There are 1,267 more pupils moving from primary to secondary education this year, when compared to last year.

Some 2,219 more pupils are transferring when compared to two years ago.

The rise led to the Department of Education giving extra school places to 20 post-primary schools across Northern Ireland.

Most of the 413 additional places are being provided to schools in Belfast, North Down and Ards areas.

Paula Bradshaw, Alliance Party MLA for south Belfast, told the Belfast Telegraph that she has been contacted by a number of parents whose children were not offered places in their first or second choice schools despite having performed well in transfer tests and living in close proximity.

"These pupils will now have to travel great distances, getting two buses or having to get lifts from their parents," she said.

"This is a perennial problem and I met with the Education Authority in early May to discuss the issues specific to South Belfast.

"I appreciate that many post-primary schools provide excellent educational experiences and can understand their desirability; however, the Education Authority must act to ensure that all children are supported to access schools near where they live.

"It really is not acceptable for an envelop to drop on a door mat advising expectant pupils that they are going to have to travel long distances away from their homes and separated from friends, or worse still, no school at all.

"How utterly devastating for them at this crucial stage of their educational journey."

Ms Bradshaw called for a review of Northern Ireland's entire education system, adding: "In my opinion this should be a high priority for the next Education Minister."

The Department of Education can provide a "temporary variation" in numbers for schools if additional places are still required.

For example, last year 40 extra places were provided at Bangor Academy after it was heavily oversubscribed.

Parents of the 226 pupils who have not received a place will be provided with a list of schools which still have places available.

The EA has set up a helpline for parents who did not receive a letter on Saturday, or whose child has yet to receive a school place.

The number is 028 9598 5595. It will operate from 9am to 5pm on Monday.

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