A FAMILY say they have been left with no choice but to move house after their son was rejected by all three of his nursery school choices.
Danielle Davey (31), who lives in Blackskull, told how her son Joel, who is four in August, was turned down by Donacloney, Dromore and Ballydown (Banbridge) nurseries.
Her first choice for her son was Donacloney, and although she sympathised with the school’s efforts to increase their school places, she was frustrated that her son was left with playgroups as the only option for his pre-school education.
Danielle, who also has a two-year-old daughter named Leah, said: “I’ve spoken to other families in the area and it would appear that no children from Blackskull have got into Donacloney.
“If Joel hasn’t got into nursery, what’s the chances of him getting into primary school here? And if Joel hasn’t got in then there’s little chance Leah will get in either.
“The only option is to move house. Thankfully we’re only renting so there’s nothing tying us to Blackscull. My fear is if children cannot be accepted into their local nursery and potentially primary school, this is only going to contribute to the death of the local community as parents will be forced to move.”
She added: “Unfortunately our son is in the vast number of children turned down for a pre-school placement in the local nursery. The fascinating fact is that my son was turned down by the local primary school on distance. The distance from our home to the local school is two miles. The next closest nursery would be Dromore Nursery which is roughly five miles away.
“I applied to all local nurseries in our area - Donacloney, Dromore and Ballydowan - and my son was turned down for all of these options.
“I would like to ask where my child is to go to nursery. I would prefer him to attend a pre-school nursery unit over a playgroup. We are a one-wage earning family, with my husband working full-time to provide for his family, while I have chosen to be a full-time mother and provide my children with a secure parenting structure.”
The mother-of-two added: “Because of my position as a full-time mother who isn’t on benefits I am at a disadvantage.
“I am very unhappy and confused as to where our son can attend pre-school and also primary school seeing the closest local primary school cannot accept my child because he is two miles away from the school.
“I think this is an outrageous criteria to be placed as it is making us question whether living in a country setting is worthwhile as our children are being discriminated against because of distance.”
Principal at Donacloney Lynn Nesbitt admitted her frustration at the situation. “We have 26 nursery places and we’re oversubscribed every year. This year it has really come to a head,” she said,
“It’s quite right that parents want their children to go to pre-school in the local area and it’s frustrating that there’s nothing we can do.”
The principal said her school would continue to push for extra primary school places.
She said: “This is a growing area and the school should be allowed to grow to meet the needs of the community.”