O’Dowd turns down St Mary’s nursery unit proposal

John O'Dowd has turned down proposals for additional nursery provision at St Mary's PS.
John O'Dowd has turned down proposals for additional nursery provision at St Mary's PS.

EDUCATION Minister, John O’Dowd, has turned down a development proposal for the establishment of an additional statutory nursery unit at St Mary’s Primary School, Banbridge.

Explaining the reasons for his decision, Mr O’Dowd commented: “My Department faces significant financial pressures, particularly on its front-line schools budget. Given these current budget restrictions, it is important that we maximise the impact of available pre-school resources and avoid unnecessary over-provision or duplication.

“Every time I approve a development proposal for a statutory nursery school, it creates extra pressure on the front-line schools’ budget programme. However, I am legally bound to make a decision on any development proposal presented to my Department, in doing so I consider each proposal on the basis of all the information pertinent to the individual case.

“In this instance there are already sufficient pre-school places in the area and if approved the new unit would potentially displace existing good quality pre-school provision, on that basis and the restriction on my departmental budget, I could not endorse this proposal.”