Belfast Telegraph

Parents fear loss of school places

by Natalie Gorman

Parents in Groomsport who have children nearing primary school age are “fearful” a school place will not be available to them locally.

Their concerns are mounting as they have been asked to select up to six choices of school for their children.

DUP MLA Alex Easton has called on the South Eastern Education and Library Board to standby commitments given to local parents to ensure that their children are granted places in nearby schools after it closed Groomsport Primary School.

Mr Easton said: “Parents who were guaranteed that they would be offered places for their children in the local area received communication asking for them to select more options.

“Parents fear that, without being told, their first three choices were rejected and are now being asked to choose further options.

“I am deeply disappointed and angered that local parents are having difficulties securing a place for their children. The South Eastern Education and Library Board must assist local parents in providing them with what they want, given the thought and effort they have put into selecting a school for their child. It is only fair that the board stands by their earlier commitment to guarantee places.”

“The South Eastern Education and Library Board must stand by their commitment made to those parents in securing places for their children in local Primary Schools. This commitment was given to parents whose children are attending a local playgroup.

“Many of these parents have thought long and hard as to where they want to send their children and a local school place is essential for many parents and their children. If local options such as Ballymagee, Ballyholme and Towerview are oversubscribed, it’s just not feasible to ask these parents to send their children as far as Clandeboye and Kilcooley.”

Groomsport Primary School closed its doors at the end of August 2007 with only 25 children enrolled in the school. Maria Eagle, the Education Minister at the time, said it was clear that the position of the school was no longer sustainable and added: “The Department of Education and the South Eastern Education and Library Board will work together to facilitate, for those parents who wish it, the transfer of pupils currently at Groomsport Primary School to the nearby integrated school.”

Mr Easton told the Community Telegraph however that “there is no nearby integrated school.”

A spokesperson from the South Eastern Education Library Board told the Community Telegraph: “As preferences and placements are not finalised until letters are issued to parents on April 13, it would be inappropriate to give out this information at this stage.”

Belfast Telegraph


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