THE Education Minister has given the go-ahead for 26 part-time nursery units at Drumadonnell Primary School.
The news comes just a few weeks after John O’Dowd rejected a request for extra nursery spaces from St Mary’s Primary School in Banbridge.
Speaking of his most recent decision, Mr O’Dowd said the nursery places at Drumadonnell will provide for many children who previously had to travel outside the area.
“The establishment of these new facilities will be a welcome announcement,” he said, “And will provide nursery provision to children who currently travel outside their immediate locality to access a pre-school place.
“It is common knowledge that my Department faces significant financial pressures, particularly on its front-line schools’ budget. It is therefore important that we maximise the impact of available pre-school resources and avoid unnecessary over-provision or duplication. On this occasion there was a clear gap in provision and a need to create more pre-school places for the benefit of the children in the area.
“My Department is committed to providing a place for each child in their immediate pre-school year. Research has shown that there is no discernible benefit to children of a longer daily pre-school session, therefore in this instance I have modified the proposals and given approval for the establishment of a 26-place part-time unit at each school.”
Speaking after the extra places at St Mary’s were turned down, school principal Des O’Hagan said he was disappointed.
“We did a lot of groundwork before making the application,” he said. “We are already ovsersubscribed. I’m sitting here with 93 applications for 50 places. Where are all these children supposed to go?”