The Workers’ Party has demanded that the incoming Education Minister find places for the 1,493 children who have so far failed to secure a funded pre-school place for September.
“This failure is in direct contravention of the Education Minister Catriona Ruane’s Early Years strategy,” said John Lavery, Workers’ Party North Belfast representative.
Mr Lavery has voiced his support for a group of north Belfast parents whose children are struggling to find nursery places and who have recently written to Catriona Ruane after receiving no satisfactory response from either Belfast Education and Library Board or the Department of Education. “The Workers Party agrees with these North Belfast parents that judicial review may be necessary if the parents are to get any justice on this issue,” said Mr Lavery.
“Since the Department of Education’s Pre-School Expansion Programme was rolled out in 1998, availability of funded pre-school provision has increased from 45% to over 90% for children in their final pre-school year and this is a very welcome change. But more could be done.
The Workers Party believes that pre-school education should be universally available rather than targeted at poorer families. Only six European countries – Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Slovenia and Latvia – have fully integrated early childhood
education and care systems under which single departments take full responsibility for all pre-school education and there are single workforces for children from birth until school.
The Workers Party believes that these systems are a key indicator of success in reducing child poverty and promoting social inclusion. This is what we should be aiming for”