Belfast Telegraph

Pleas for calm as school places website crashes

By Michael Sheils McNamee

There were calls for patience yesterday after the Education Authority website crashed as thousands of parents rushed to secure pre-school and primary school places for September.

The technical problems emerged on Wednesday afternoon.

Writing on its Facebook page, an Education Authority (EA) spokesman said: "A very small number of users have experienced some difficulties and EA is working to actively resolve these difficulties.

"Places are not allocated on a first come first served basis, and schools and play groups will not consider applications until after the closing date. EA apologises for any inconvenience caused and reminds parents/guardians that the admissions process is open until January 31."

The Education Authority said 4,500 pupils had been successfully registered using the system.

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong said she had received assurances that the technical issues would not impact on children entering the school system.

"Schools, particularly pre-schools, are oversubscribed in my constituency. It is understandable parents want to submit their application as soon as possible, in the hope they can secure a place," said Mrs Armstrong.

"I contacted the Education Authority today and they confirmed that due to the high number of people trying to login their system has not been able to cope.

"However, I would like to reassure parents that admissions are not based on a 'first come first served' basis. Parents can apply online until midnight on January 31. If you cannot get into the admissions site today, try again tomorrow or later in the month."

Mrs Armstrong said she had asked the Education Authority to consider if it had sufficient online resources to deal with demand, noting a message telling parents to try again later would have helped reassure parents.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan, urged parents to be patient with the Education Authority's new online application process.

Mr Durkan said he was in contact with the Education Authority to relay the concerns of parents.

"The problems have been reported and EA are now successfully receiving applications. They are asking parents to be patient with the system", he said.

"I must stress these places are not allocated on a 'first come first served' basis. Don't panic if you don't get it done today, applications are open until midnight on January 31."

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