Demand for places increases in Northern Ireland

Written by: Simon Doyle | Published:

Extra places have been made available at Northern Ireland secondary schools after unprecedented demand.

Hundreds of pupils and parents were disappointed missing out on places after popular post-primary schools in Co Down were heavily oversubscribed.

Close to 24,000 children will be transferring from primary to secondary education in Northern Ireland this year.

An overwhelming majority received places as they do every year – although some schools experience unexpected demand this year. While only 313 were without a place, this was a big rise from the 188 in 2017.

One of the schools – Bangor Academy – had received more applications than places for the last few years.

It also had two requests for a temporary variation in numbers rejected. Some pupils were instead offered places at schools in Portaferry – more than 20 miles away.

The Department of Education later agreed to a request to accommodate 40 named children due to “unique circumstances”. Strangford Integrated College has also been granted 19 additional places.

A department spokeswoman says previous requests from Bangor Academy, made during the transfer process, were turned down “in line with policy”.

“In light of the scale of oversubscription this year in the area and the uncertainty that may have been caused had the request not been approved, the department has decided that it was appropriate to approve the most recent request.”

The Education Authority says that 98.62 per cent of children were placed in a school with 86.35 per cent offered a place at their first preference school.
It has also published a full list of schools across Northern Ireland at which hundreds of places still remain.


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