Thursday, 17 August 2017
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Christmas 2012 & New Year 2012

Free Pre-School Places

Chris Briggs from the Charity Employers For Childcare gives advice and closing dates for pre-school applications.

It may seem like no time since you were celebrating your child’s second birthday but already you are being encouraged to think ahead to their education and schooling. Parents of children born between 2 July 2009 and 1 July 2010 can now apply for a free pre-school place for the academic year beginning September 2013.

However, you need to act quickly. Application forms are available from the start of December and the deadline for the return of applications is strictly 12 noon on Friday 11 January 2013.

What are Free Pre-School Places?

In Northern Ireland, children are entitled to a free pre-school place of at least 12.5 hours per week for 38 weeks in the year before they start primary one.

Pre-school education is not compulsory however there is strong evidence to suggest that high quality pre-school education has immensely positive outcomes for children. The Northern Ireland Government has given a commitment to ‘ensure that at least one year of pre-school education is available to every family that wants it’.

How can I apply?

Application forms should currently be available from the pre-school setting or directly from the Education and Library Board. The application form should be completed giving the maximum number of pre-school settings you wish your child to be considered for.
The completed application form must be returned to your first choice provider by the date stated on the application form. This will be 12 noon on 11 January 2013.

What are the criteria?

Pre-school settings must adhere to strict admissions criteria which will be published in the Board’s prospectus. Each provider will have its own set of criteria which may include:

•Children of parents who receive certain means-tested benefits
•Children whose application names that particular setting as first preference
•Children who have siblings who have attended the setting or where parents are employed by the setting (or in the case of some nursery units, the adjoining school)
•Children who live nearest to the setting.

Parents are required to provide proof of the information given on the application form, such as the child’s address and date of birth.

Some providers may accept applications for younger children in the year before their pre-school year, but strict admissions criteria will be adhered to, giving preference to children in their final pre-school year.

Where can I access more information?

More information, application forms and pre-school prospectus are available from your local Education and Library Board:

BELB 028 9056 4080
SEELB 028 9056 6981
NEELB 028 2566 2197
SELB 028 3751 2455
WELB 028 8241 1458

Don’t forget, the closing date for completed applications will be 12 noon on Friday 11 January 2013.

For further information on pre-school places or any other childcare and work related issues contact or Tel: 0800 028 6538.

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