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Middletown families’ pre-school plight for Stormont

AN SDLP Assemblyman  has taken the case of a dozen families in Middletown – who were denied places for their children at their local nursery school – to Education Minister John O’Dowed.

Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic  Bradley has secured an adjournment debate on the “lack of nursery places” at St Joseph’s Primary School.

The Middletown school this year received 38 applications for 26 places and, according to Mr Bradley, owing to legal restrictions, could exercise no discretion in the number of places available.

Speaking ahead of a debate on the issue, the Assemblyman said: “The SDLP believes wholeheartedly that every child should have a guaranteed pre-school place and has been consistently fighting for that.

“These places really must be in the local area of the children who need them. However, parents in Middletown found themselves being offered places for their children anything up to 10 miles away, which is unfeasible for many families.

“It behoves the Minister to examine, once again, the legislative framework within which pre-school places are allocated, and allow pre-school providers the same 10% discretionary flexibility that primary schools enjoy in expanding the number of places available.”

“I look forward to hearing his response this evening,” added Mr Bradley.

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