£1.3million announced for pre-school places
The Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane has announced additional funding of up to £1.3million to fund pre-school places across the north of Ireland.
Speaking about the announcement, the Minister said: “This year, there was an unprecedented shortage of around 1,200 pre-school places. Today I have announced that I will be making a further provision of up to £1.3million to meet the shortage and ensure that, where possible, every child will be placed for the 2010/11 school year.
“Demand for pre-school places has remained fairly static since 2002, with the target of over 90% children in pre-school education being maintained and indeed exceeded.
“However, year on year fluctuations do occur as a reflection of demography and birth-rate. In the 2009/10 school year, I made provision within the budget to meet increased demand for places. In order to maintain this increased level of provision for the 2010/11 school year, an additional £300,000 of funding was made available to the Education and Library Boards in this year’s budget. However, the extent of the increased demand for places only became known when the admissions process was completed at end of April.
“I recognise the importance of the early years of a child’s life and the benefits that quality pre-school education provides and that is why I have made this funding available. Whilst pre-school is not a compulsory phase of education, I welcome the fact that parents recognise and want this beneficial experience for their children.”