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.”