CONCERNS have been raised that a lack of pre-school provision in the Dungannon area is causing misery for local families.
Latest figures from the Department of Education show that this year 119 local pre-school children were unable to be placed at their preferred nursery school due to a lack of places, one of the highest totals in Northern Ireland.
By contrast, Cookstown had 82 children in a similar predicament, while Magherafelt had just 69.
Three-year-olds are supposed to be offered a year of preparation before going into primary school.
But finding a suitable place has become very difficult for some Dungannon families.
Many of the parents have been forced to send their children to second or further preference schools.
Speaking about the shortage in the Dungannon district, Education Minister John O’Dowd has said: “I have asked the Southern Education and Library Board to carry out an urgent strategic review of the need for provision in the area and to consider how best to meet the demand for pre-school places from 1 September 2013.
“These options should aim to provide high quality pre-school education that is sustainable and affordable.”
Replying to the report Sinn Féin MLA Bronwyn McGahan stated: “I welcome the commitment by the Education Minister John O’Dowd to provide a place for every child whose parents desire it.
“In the South Tyrone area every child whose family stated a preference had their child placed and over 80% of children were placed in schools under their first preference.”