We may have to home school our children, say angry parents

A meeting was held for parents at Bangor Academy on Tuesday to discuss over-subscription at the school
A meeting was held for parents at Bangor Academy on Tuesday to discuss over-subscription at the school

Parents whose children have been denied places at their preferred schools say they are being forced to consider home schooling due to over-subscription.

Across Northern Ireland around 300 children have still to be accepted into a school, amid what former education minister Peter Weir has described as a “crisis” in enrolment.

The problems, Mr Weir said, are most acute in and around the north Down area.

The principal of Bangor Academy revealed earlier this week that “over 40 families” who applied for a place at his school will miss out.

A meeting with parents whose children couldn’t get a place at Bangor Academy was called for Tuesday evening.

Jennifer Rankin, speaking to the News Letter, said her daughter has not been given a place anywhere, despite having applied to nine schools.

The only options available to her, she said, was one school she deemed “unacceptable” due to issues with poor exam results and inspection reports, and another which is simply too far away.

Mrs Rankin said: “It is supposed to be about parental choice but we are not being given that choice.”

She added: “My daughter is 10 years old, extremely upset and has been crying since Saturday morning as she does not understand why she does not have a school place.

“We are considering home schooling. I have to do everything I can for the long-term prospects of my child. Other parents at that meeting were saying the same thing.”

Another parent, Mark Danter, who was also at the meeting, said: “We put Bangor Academy down as our first choice. Obviously we were absolutely gutted when the letter arrived. We spent all day on Monday calling around other schools, trying to get him on waiting lists but everywhere is totally over-subscribed.”

Mr Danter said he, along with other parents, may have to consider home schooling.

Elsewhere, Jim Sheerin, principal of Lisnagarvey High School in Co Antrim, revealed that 153 young people had applied for just 100 places at the school this year.

“Our enrolment figure has gone up from 280 to 560 in the past 10 years,” he added.

“Lisnagarvey High School has been oversubscribed for the past three years and this year has been the worst year ever.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “It is important that parents continue to engage with the Education Authority and identify additional preferences.”