Belfast Telegraph

More than 400 additional school places made available in Northern Ireland

More than 400 extra school places have been made available for September 2019. (Ben Birchall/PA)
More than 400 extra school places have been made available for September 2019. (Ben Birchall/PA)

More than 400 additional school places have been created across Northern Ireland for new pupils in 2019.

The Department of Education (DE), which sets the maximum number of pupils a school can admit ever year, said the move is to help cope with an expected increase in Year Eight pupils is some areas of Northern Ireland.

The BBC reports most of the places are for schools in Belfast, North Down and Ards areas.

In all, 413 additional places will be provided in 20 schools in September this year.

Bangor Academy, Strangford Integrated College and Hazelwood Integrated College will get 40 extra places each.

Regent House Grammar School and Lisnagarvey High School will get 30 extra places.

Ashfield Boys' High School, Belfast Model School for Girls, Aquinas Grammar School, Lagan College, St Pius X College in Magherafelt and St Patrick's College in Dungannon are to get 20 additional places.

Priory Integrated College in Holywood will get 23 more places, Ashfield Girls' High School 17 extra places and St Columbanus' College in Bangor and St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon 15 additional places each.

Dromore High Schools will get 12 more Year Eights places, Strathearn School and Glastry College 10, Antrim Grammar School eight and Nendrum College three.

Elizabeth Huddleson, principal at Bangor Grammar School, told the BBC she was "deeply disappointed" that it had been given no places.

"This offer was to prevent a repeat of the pressure for places that was well publicised last year and to do the very best for our local community by way of affording more boys the opportunity to attend the local school of their choice," she said.

"It would seem that a number of boys in our area will now be deprived the opportunity of a local Bangor-based school option in favour of options which will involve travel and education outside their local area.

"Furthermore, it restricts the options for boys and parents seeking a grammar school place as most of the additional places have been allocated to non-selective schools.

"We are concerned that, at a time when there are more boys going through the system, the department's approach has unfairly disadvantaged boys by reducing the local grammar school options for academically inclined boys."

The DE said it had provided places at schools where the pressure on numbers was greatest.

"In 2019 it is estimated that the number of children transferring will be well over 2,500 higher than the number that transferred four years ago," a spokesman said.

"This proactive move is intended to ensure the transfer procedure can successfully conclude while minimising the number of children who are unplaced at the end of the procedure."

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