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Farry welcomes additional post-primary places

North Down Alliance MLA Stephen Farry has welcomed the additional places allocated to a number of local post-primary schools in order to better manage the transfer process this year, but stressed again the importance of long-term reform.

He said: "This is a sensible and pragmatic step to address immediate demographic pressures in certain areas across Northern Ireland, including notably North Down and Ards.

"Last year, there was an unprecedented crisis with local post-primary places. 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. This was subsequently addressed by the Department through a series of temporary variations.

"At that time, Alliance representatives stressed the importance of a proactive approach ahead of this year's transfer process, and we have kept in contact with the Department and met with the Permanent Secretary last month.

"We welcome the allocation of these additional places. I hope this will go a long way to avoiding the problems of last year. It is also worth noting if further action is required there remains the option for schools to apply to the Department of Education for further temporary variations.

"The Northern Ireland education system remains unsustainable. It badly needs reform. The best long-term solution lies via a Bengoa-style review."