‘Children must be given legal right to nursery school place’ – Rodgers

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Friday, April 27th, 2012

Sean Rodgers is the new MLA for South Down

Newly appointed SDLP Education spokesperson Sean Rodgers has called on the Education Minister, John O’Dowd, to give every child in the North the statutory right to a nursery school place. The South Down representative was speaking following his maiden speech in the Assembly. Mr Rodgers said that the Department of Education is standing in the way of giving children the right to a nursery school place. “The Minister must take action to change this unacceptable situation which is causing great frustration and distress to parents both in South Down and across the North. There is a fundamental inequality in that children have no right in law to a pre-school place in their locality which is denying them the best start to their education. Having worked as a teacher for many years, I am extremely concerned that this issue has not been addressed through legislation and it is vital that the Education Minister ensures that this is changed and our children’s needs are put first.” Rodgers continued, “Research tells us that the formative years in a child’s life are the most crucial. Next to a secure and loving home environment, high quality early years provision is one of the most important factors in a child’s cognitive, language and social development and I want to pay tribute to all the providers of preschool education  – they do fantastic work.” “While I welcome the Assembly’s support to remove the preferential treatment being given to children with July and August birthdays for pre-school places, it is essential that we go a step further and make sure that all children have the legal right to a local nursery school place,” he added.  
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