Northern Ireland news

Parents 'only included grammar schools' on children's transfer forms

Almost 24,000 pupils are transferring from primary to secondary education this year

More than two-thousands school places remain unfilled, the Education Authority (EA) has said.

Children were informed on Saturday which post-primary schools they will attend later this year.

Two-hundred and twenty-six are so far unplaced - 0.94 per cent of all those transferring. A total of 23,723 pupils have a place.

All those without a school can now reapply to those with space.

The Education Authority (EA) said there were 2,334 places available at schools across the north.

Analysis: No one disputes the system of transfer is far from perfect, cruel even 

The EA and Department of Education have been criticised by some disappointed parents who accused them of not creating enough extra places to reflect a spike in the birth rate.

There were 1,267 more pupils transferring from P7 to post-primary this year compared to last. This followed an increase of 952 over the previous year.

Both the department and EA have, however, been working closely over recent months to monitor the admissions process and identify areas of demographic pressure.

To date, this has resulted in more than 1,000 additional places being made available for September 2019.

A very small number of children remain unplaced - fewer than the total of 313 at this stage last year.

Parents are urged to list several schools on the transfer form, and a combination of grammar and non-grammar for those who choose to enter 11-plus style exams, in case their grade or score is not enough.

They are also advised to read school admissions criteria and "make sure you understand what's needed by the schools you list".

It is understood that some parents selected just one school for their child - 47 in total.

There were 21 others who listed grammar schools only.

In addition, there were some who included a non-grammar school but chose one that awards places to those who give it a first preference. Naming it anywhere other than first on the list means they will miss out.

The EA has reassured parents that no child will be left without a school. The number of available places is more than 10 times higher than the number of children yet to be accommodated.

According to the EA, there are 73 schools including some grammars, that still have places - enough "for all pupils who have applied".

Both the EA and Department of Education will continue to work with parents and schools over the coming weeks to ensure every child is placed.

Parents will be provided with a list of schools where places still exist and they will be invited to apply to these.

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