Anger and upset at nursery place system

Sylvia Roney and son Olly who are unhappy about not getting a nursery school place.  INPT1715-410
Sylvia Roney and son Olly who are unhappy about not getting a nursery school place. INPT1715-410

A mother-of-three faces a “childcare nightmare” after her application for a full-time nursery place for her youngest son was turned down.

Sylvia Roney had put Tandragee Nursery School down as first choice but due to the volume of applicants this year, has had to accept a part-time afternoon place at the school.

Tandragee Nursery has 78 places in total, split into one full-time class and part-time morning and afternoon classes.

The afternoon hours are between 12.15-2.45 which means that Mrs Roney now has to look for a childminder who will care for Olly in the morning, bring him to nursery, pick him up and then look after him for an hour before her husband returns from work.

Both Mr and Mrs Roney work full-time and currently pay for a full-time, private daycare place for their son. Both of their older children are at Tandragee PS.

She said, “I am disgusted at the system. Every pre-school child has the right to get the same hours and a full-time place for pre-school so they all have a good start to early education and are prepared for primary school regardless of their race or social circumstances.

“Tandragee only has 26 full-time places and is totally over-subscribed, but can’t get funding for any more.

“I am working full time along with my husband, we pay our taxes and it is unfair that we should be treated differently to anyone else. I feel strongly that working parents should not be discriminated against. The system is unfair.”

Apart from social disadvantage, which is set by the Department of Education and tops the criteria list, each nursery sets its own admissions criteria to be applied when too many children apply.

Meanwhile, a Portadown mum faces an anxious wait after her daughter failed to get in to three different nursery schools.

The mother-of-two had put down Tandragee Nursery as her first three choices, followed by Millington Nursery in fourth and Seagoe in fifth.

She explained, “The first two criteria relate to social disadvantage, which doesn’t apply to us as my husband works, and then it went to distance and random letter selection which means people got places who are further away from the school than we are.

“My daughter will be four in November so she should definitely have got in somewhere.

“I was given a sheet with other available places but they are in places like Middletown and Cookstown. I have had to reapply to get her in to Tullygally in Craigavon, which again is not guaranteed.

“It’s quite a distance there and back every day, and I need to pick my son up at Derryhale PS too .”