Northern Ireland news

Schools awarded extra places revealed

More than 60 schools have been given extra places this year

DETAILS of how many extra places have been given to post-primary schools to cope with high demand have been shared by the Department of Education.

A few dozen P7 children due to transfer to secondary school in September are yet to secure a spot.

There has been a steady rise in the number of pupils transferring - more than 10 per cent in the last three years.

This means hundreds have been left initially unplaced due to popular schools being oversubscribed - even though there are thousands of empty desks elsewhere.

About 280 pupils from a total of more than 23,000 were without a place last Saturday. Many have since been accommodated.

Some parents are angry that their children have missed out on grammar schools this year.

Almost all grammars operated non-academic criteria after entrance exams were cancelled.

This caused applications to spiral and it is expected there will be a record number of appeals. These appeals will only be upheld if a school fails to adhere to its published criteria - not if a parent simply thinks they were unfair.

The fallout is causing the first major headache for new Education Minister Michelle McIlveen.

Her department can allocate additional places where there is a need and planning for this year's transfer process started in 2019.

Parental preference cannot be modelled, and the absence of entrance tests made this work even more challenging, however.

Up until last weekend, a total of 828 additional Year 8 places had been allocated to schools across the north.

Ms McIlveen said this work would continue.

Asked where these extra places were located, the department provided The Irish News with a detailed breakdown.

There were 351 pre-approved spots created through the Additional Places Exercise. In addition, there have been 477 `temporary variations'.

Separate figures from the Education Authority show that Belfast remains the most under-pressure area - with 78 children yet to be placed by Wednesday.

North Belfast had 29 pupils unplaced, in an area where several schools have already been given enrolment boosts.

East Antrim was the only constituency outside Belfast where the number of unplaced pupils was 20 or higher.

Sinn Féin education spokesman Pat Sheehan said Ms McIlveen needed to act urgently.

"The post primary admissions fiasco is a direct consequence of the previous education minister's failure to undertake the necessary contingency planning for alternative transfer arrangements this year," he said.

"There are thousands of available places across our system, the issue is that the available places are in the wrong areas. This points to a lack of strategic planning and organisation on behalf of the previous minister and the department.

"Minister Mclveen must work quickly and closely with colleagues in the Education Authority to bring this uncertainty for families to an end."

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SCHOOL EXTRA PLACES

Abbey Christian Brothers 2

Antrim Grammar School 24

Aquinas, Belfast 20

Ashfield Boys', Belfast 30

Assumption, Ballynahinch 10

Ballyclare High School 1

Ballymena Academy 20

Ballymoney High School 2

Banbridge Academy 8

Bangor Academy 31

Belfast High School 2

Blessed Trinity, Belfast 10

Dalriada School, Ballymoney 7

Dean Maguirc, Carrickmore 36

Dominican College, Belfast 10

Down High School 5

Drumragh Integrated, Omagh 28

Fivemiletown College 4

Fort Hill IC, Lisburn 1

Glastry College, Ballyhalbert 6

Glenlola Collegiate, Bangor 1

Grosvenor Grammar, Belfast 20

Integrated College Dungannon 20

Lagan College, Belfast 7

Limavady Grammar School 6

Lisneal College, Derry 21

Magherafelt High School 5

New-Bridge IC, Banbridge 8

Newtownhamilton High 3

Our Lady and St Patrick's 32

Our Lady's, Newry 28

Parkhall IC, Antrim 18

Rainey Endowed, Magherafelt 12

Rathfriland High School 3

Saintfield High School 4

Slemish College, Ballymena 10

St Catherine's, Armagh 25

St Colman's, Newry 15

St Colm's, Draperstown 7

St Columbanus', Bangor 20

St Dominic's, Belfast 21

St John the Baptist, Portadown 4

St Joseph's, Donaghmore 32

St Joseph's, Crossmaglen 11

St Kevin's, Lisnaskea 5

St Louis, Ballymena 6

St Malachy's, Belfast 50

St Mark's, Warrenpoint 21

St Mary's, Magherafelt 12

St Patrick's Ac, Dungannon 15

St Patrick's Col, Dungannon 22

St Patrick's, Maghera 3

St Patrick's, Downpatrick 10

St Patrick's, Keady 2

St Paul's, Bessbrook 38

St Pius X, Magherafelt 30

Strathearn, Belfast 10

Ulidia IC, Carrickfergus 10

Victoria College Belfast 2

Wallace High School, Lisburn 1

Wellington College, Belfast 1

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