Loss of Stoneybatter pre-school places ‘appalling’, says SenatorGary Ibbotson 24 May 2023
The loss of several pre-school places in Stoneybatter is an “appalling” example of a lack of joined up thinking in Government, according to Labour Senator Marie Sherlock.
Senator Sherlock was speaking after it was announced that the area is to lose 44 pre-school places next semester.
This is after the same area lost 61 spots last year.
“Between June 2022 and June 2023, the Stoneybatter area has lost a total of 105 pre school places,” she said.
“This has caused enormous stress for many parents who have struggled to find places in an area of a gross shortage of pre-school supply.
“What’s worse, these losses were entirely foreseeable by the Department of Education and they have done nothing to support the pre-school sector.
“The losses arise because two primary schools in the area are expanding their special needs provision and need to take back the classrooms, used for many years by the two pre-schools.”
Senator Sherlock says that the expansion of special needs classes should not be at the detriment of pre-school places.
“Unfortunately, we are aware that the losses in Stoneybatter are not isolated incidents and that preschools in other counties have been forced to close because of similar developments,” she said.
“This lack of joined up thinking between the Department of Education and Department of Children is simply unacceptable.
“Ironically, pre-school children with additional needs who would previously have benefited from supports under the AIMS programme will now be left with no supports, yet they can look forward to great supports when they attend primary school.
“This situation ignores the enormous importance of early intervention.
“We have tried to support the preschool to find an alternative location, however it has proven impossible to find an appropriate building in the Dublin 1 and Dublin 7 area.”
Senator Sherlock says the funding proposed by the Government to develop pre-schools will not match the demand.
“Over recent months, we have pleaded with Minister O’ Gorman to put in place capital funding for the construction of appropriate early years facilities,” she said.
“Some €44m has been promised under the “Building Blocks” scheme for 2024 however, we’re aware that already the demand for this funding will far exceed what will be made available.”