Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has commented on the 2021 post primary transfer process.
Addressing issues of concern for some pupils and parents the Minister said: “On Saturday 12 June almost 99% of our P7 children were notified that they were placed in a school of their preference and 85% were told they had gained a place at their first preference school.
“For the vast majority of these children this was an exciting time, having discovered that they would be moving to their first preference school, often with many of their primary school friends.
“However, Saturday did not bring good news for every child and as expected and indeed is the case in every year, some children did not get their first preference school, and some were unsuccessful in gaining admission to their listed preferences.
“Moving to ‘big’ school is a significant event in a child’s life and I fully understand the disappointment felt by some of our children and families at this time.”
The Minister stressed that this is now the time for parents, schools, and education authorities to act promptly to ensure every child can secure a school place as quickly as possible.
She continued: “On Saturday parents of children still to be placed were provided with a list of schools with places still available across Northern Ireland. Over 2,700 places remained available at that time. Parents of the majority of children who had not been placed have already submitted applications to these schools and these applications will be considered promptly by schools. I expect a large number of these children to have secured a school place in the coming days.
“Parents may consider lodging an appeal to an admissions appeal tribunal. I would say to parents that nominating further preferences now does not affect an admissions appeal and if it is successful they can still avail of a place at a preferred school. Therefore I would encourage them to nominate places for their children as soon as possible.”
The Department of Education can allocate additional places where there is a need and planning for this year’s transfer process commenced in 2019. While parental preference cannot be modelled, and the absence of entrance tests made this work even more challenging, the Department, working with the education authorities has already secured places for almost 99% of children.
Minister McIlveen added: “Where there is demand my Department will allocate places and in fact have already done so. By the weekend a total of 828 additional Year 8 places had been allocated to schools across Northern Ireland to cater for oversubscription and this will continue. My Department will continue to consider where places need to be allocated, taking into account the needs of individual children.
The Minister concluded: “With my Department, parents, schools and the Education Authority working together we can ensure every child secures a school place well before the start of term.
“In my new role as Education Minister I will ensure the needs of children are put at the heart of our decision-making, and facilitating placements for all P7 children is my top priority at this time.”