Head warns of impending P1 places shortage

Teacher Mrs. Lorraine Taylor with her P1 class from Bocombra PS. INPT38-1087
Teacher Mrs. Lorraine Taylor with her P1 class from Bocombra PS. INPT38-1087
  • School over-subscribed for nursery
  • Warning of impact on P1
  • Call for Department of Education to take action

Children going into P1 next September could face the “very real prospect” of not getting a place in any school near their home, a local principal has warned.

Mark Vallelly, principal of Bocombra PS, was speaking after the school had to turn away a large number of children, whose parents had applied for nursery places. And he said this augurs badly for 2016 when these same children will need P1 places.

There will come a point when all the schools nearby are full

Principal Mark Vallelly

He said, “We filled our 26 morning nursery places with no problems and we could have could have filled a second session and some more.

“These are children for whom Bocombra is the closest controlled school to their home address, and whose parents had a realistic expectation that they would get a place.

“I spent all day Monday in the office speaking to parents both on the phone and face-to-face and what’s worrying is the large number of children who seem to have been unplaced. It’s upsetting and disappointing for parents and frustrating for the schools.”

He added, “A lot of the conversation was about P1 and there is a real concern that there will come a point when all the schools nearby are full. In September 2016, children in this area may not get into the school of their choice or any school close to their home.

“I have raised this with MP David Simpson. I feel that someone has to speak up for these youngsters and their families on this side of town. Our school is in a growth area and it needs more places. It is unrealistic for four-year-olds to be bussed miles to school.

“It is within the remit of the SELB and the Department of Education to do something about this but it’s no use waiting months. It needs to be addressed right now.”