Dungannon’s five year long baby boom has left local primary schools coping with an unprecedented demand for places.
A total of 11 local primary schools have more pupils than they have places, with the squeeze at its worst in Dungannon town, where St Patrick’s Primary School had to apply for a staggering 33 extra places, the highest for any school in Northern Ireland.
In all, a total of 64 surplus places were granted to Dungannon schools this year to cope with the surge in demand.
The figures, which were released by the Northern Ireland Assembly, come at a time when the future of some local schools is under threat because of low enrolments.
As well as Dungannon town and Coalisland, schools in the Clogher Valley, Aughnacloy, Killyman and other rural areas faced a shortfall in the number of available places.
The additional school places that were required this year in the Dungannon area amount to the size of a small primary school.
The pressures are less acute in the secondary school sector where only two extra places had to be allocated, one at Fivemiletown High, and the other at St Joseph’s Grammar Donaghmore.
Independent Republican Barry Monteith has already raised the issue of severe shortfalls in pre-school provision and accused the education department of discriminating against Dungannon children.
“The new figures for incoming years show that this crisis will continue unless this blatant discrimination is addressed”, said the Dungannon representative.