SDLP Councillor Sharon Haughey-Grimley has written to the Minister for Education following the allocation of PEAG places to pre school children, which has seen a number of children being turned away from their local nurseries and play schools.
Cllr Haughey was speaking after a number of worried parents contacted her, she said: “Every single year I fight against this problem for parents and every year the Minister for Education continues to get it wrong.
“At the minute the Department of Education allocate PEAG places to preschool settings without taking into account what the demand is for each nursery or play group. This means many parents are disappointed when they are told their child has not received a free preschool place in their local area.
“It also means that popular settings are stifled while some play groups cannot fill their quotas.
“The Department of Education has even offered children places as far as 10-20miles away, others are asked to drive pass their local nursery to be placed elsewhere. This is wrong, the system is failing our children at the very outset of their educational journey.
“Time and time again I have raised the problem with the Department of Education but nothing has changed. Leadership is needed to resolve this issue once and for all. This problem is right across the district from Poyntzpass to Cill Chluana.
“I believe a better system would be similar to funding for primary schools. The funding should be allocated to the child to bring with them to the preschool of their parent’s choice. Children living in the vicinity of a preschool setting should be granted a place there.
“I am working with a number of parents to secure PEAG places for their children who are still without a suitable free pre school place. I will continue to fight this issue and I hope the Minister will take immediate action to resolve this problem once and for all.”