Social Democratic and Labour Party Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan MLA has written to newly appointed Minister Michelle McIlveen outlining the need for urgent action to find places for children who currently have no post-primary school to attend.
Daniel McCrossan MLA said:
“I have been stunned by the news that over 280 Year 7 children have not been placed in any post-primary school for September 2021. It seems incredulous that reports are coming in of parents who had stated eight preferences for their child not receiving an offer of a single one.
“I have written to the new Minister for Education today urging her to provide direct support to the children who find themselves without a place. Children should not be punished for the impact of the global pandemic, the dithering of the previous Minister Peter Weir and his chaotic handing of the transfer process or a lack of funding.
“The Education Minister should immediately provide additional funding for places to all those schools who applied for extra places and were denied such funding. That will go some way to resolving the crisis which sees over two hundred children today who have no school place come this September.
“To hear parents use the language of “fiasco”, “totally failed” and “broken” to describe the transfer process this year is just shocking – not least because it appears an accurate reflection of what has happened.
“In this day and age, how can we operate a system that, in the words of one parent left her daughter feeling, “she was not good enough for anyone”? Our society has never been more conscious of the importance of positive mental health and wellbeing for our young people. We just cannot let this matter rest.
“My heart goes out to these young people and their parents. The SDLP will leave no stone unturned in our attempt to resolve this unsatisfactory situation. As well as taking urgent action to ensure those children without a place are placed in a school of their choice, the Minister now needs to establish an emergency working party to recommend wider solutions to these issues and ensure that funding is made available to resolve them.