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Alliance Seeking Assurances around Local Post-Primary Transfer

A local Alliance Party delegation this week met with the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education, Derek Baker, and senior officials to discuss preparations for the post-primary transfer in North Down this year and a range of other education issues.

The delegation comprised Stephen Farry MLA, Kellie Armstrong MLA, Chris Lyttle MLA, Cllr Karen Douglas, Connie Egan and Gillian Greer.

Speaking after the meeting North Down Alliance MLA Stephen Farry said: "Last year, there was an unprecedented mismatch between demand and supply in post-primary schools in the North Down area. Over local 70 children, out of over 300 across Northern Ireland were affected and in many cases went through a very difficult and traumatic experience.

"This resulted from changing demographics and the popularity and quality of local post-primary schools. After concerns from parents and local representatives, the Department of Education very pragmatically provided a series of temporary variations for local schools, primarily Bangor Academy, to ensure children were allocated suitable places.

"At the time, the Department undertook to do a short-term review of post-primary transfer and to plan ahead with local schools. This meeting was to review progress in this regard.

"We are substantially assured that significant progress is being made in this regard. While a few individual issues may emerge, the large-scale problems that occurred last year should not happen this year. The Department has been proactive in engaging with local schools and seeing how some extra capacity can be provided. They are also looking at improving the communication of outcomes to parents and the accessibility of information and helplines.

"These are of course short-term patch ups on a rolling annual basis, and we recognise that much wider and strategic reforms in the long-term are necessary to make the overall education system more sustainable."