Iveagh Primary School in Rathfriland is to get a new 26 place part-time nursery unit after the go-ahead from Education Minister John O’Dowd.
School Principal Phillip Vance expressed his delight at the announcement, which came last week.
He said: “We are absolutely excited at the prospect of the Nursery opening and it is long overdue.
“The board of governors have been trying year on year to persuade those who make strategic decisions to offer a nursery unit to the largest and most centrally placed school in Rathfriland.”
“This welcome announcement has unfortunately come too late to allow premises to be prepared for September.
“There is a great need for more pre-school provision in the great Rathfriland area and our successful reception class is already over subscribed.
“Overall, we are delighted to play our part in the quality pre-school education which can be continued at Primary school.”
Explaining the reasons for his decision, Mr O’Dowd said: “The evidence clearly demonstrates that there is a need for more pre-school places for the benefit of the children in the Rathfriland area.
“However, I am mindful that the current admissions process for 2015/16 pre-school places is nearing completion and I do not wish to impact on the decisions already made for those pupils.
“In addition, the necessary infrastructure cannot be in place for this September so I am therefore modifying the proposal to be implemented from September 1 2016, or as soon as possible thereafter.
“It is well-established that high quality pre-school education has a positive long-term impact on children’s educational outcomes.”
He continued: “To this end, a key Programme for Government target for my Department is to provide a funded place in the immediate pre-school year for all children whose parents wish it.
“This new provision at Iveagh Primary School will help achieve this aim in the Rathfriland area.
“The new nursery unit will replace the current reception provision at Iveagh Primary School and will provide pre-school places to children who would otherwise have to travel outside their immediate locality to access nursery provision.”