Family anguish at lack of school places in South Tyrone

Primary schools are oversubscribed
Primary schools are oversubscribed

A lack of places at popular local primary schools and nurseries is causing misery and chaos for hundreds of families.

A total of 23 South Tyrone and Mid-Ulster children won’t be going to their parents’ first choice primary school in September, it has been revealed.

Education bosses have already allocated all places to local primary schools.

Parents now face an anxious wait to learn what school their son or daughter will be starting this autumn.

Worryingly, it was also revealed that three local pupils don’t have a place at all in a primary school.

In addition, latest Education Department figures have revealed that eleven of Dungannon District’s nursery schools are heavily oversubscribed.

There were a total of 83 applications more than what is available at local nursery units.

Moy Area Playgroup was oversubscribed by 17 applications, Windmill Integrated PS Nursery Unit by 14, and Howard PS Nursery Unit and Paddington Playgroup by 10 each.

Figures released this week show that across Northern Ireland, out of a total of 24,000 primary school applications, 868 parents failed to be allocated a place at their chosen school for children aged four or five.

There were 80 children who were unplaced at the close of the primary admissions process on 29 April 2015.

North Down had the highest number of unplaced primary school children at 24, while East Antrim, South Antrim and East Derry had the lowest at 0.

Meanwhile, a local head teacher has warned that parents were being forced to send their children to schools miles away because popular local schools were oversubscribed.

“With more housing developments planned in local villages, the situation is going to get much worse for those schools who are already heavily oversubscribed.

“Other primary schools in the area lie along poorly maintained rural roads, and parents are unwilling to go those extra miles.”

Last week, the Tyrone Times reported, in a rare glimpse of good news for local services, how 26 new nursery places were being created at Primate Dixon Primary School in Coalisland.

Speaking about the decision, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “After some months of campaigning the school has been successful in achieving its goal of additional places to enhance an already first class nursery provision within the school,” she added.

“This development will complement the excellent nursery provision in the Coalisland/Clonoe area and I am delighted to see that the education minister has listened to the needs of the school and responded positively.”