Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty has called for additional secondary school places to be made available for pupils from South Armagh. 

Mr McNulty explained he has raised the issue with the Department of Education and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) having been approached by parents locally.

Mr McNulty said, "I have been contacted by a number of parents in relation to the need for more secondary school places in South Armagh.  In particular, there is an ongoing issue where a child, who is not the eldest in the family, is having real difficulties getting placed in any one of four local schools.  This issue arises when an older brother or sister has opted for a Grammar School place in Newry, and when it comes the turn of the next child, they struggle to get placed because of the admissions criteria set in local schools and the high demand for places.

"We are lucky to have such high quality schools in South Armagh and Newry, but parental and pupil choice needs to be given greater weight in any admission criteria.  Coupled with this is the rising school age population in the catholic / nationalist community and the school estate is struggling to cope with this.’ 

"I have raised the issue with both the Department of Education and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools.  I have asked that consideration is given to increasing secondary school places in South Armagh and that individual schools are encouraged to review their admission criteria.  It is imperative that pupils attending all primary schools in South Armagh have a fair and equitable chance of gaining a place in the secondary school of their choice."

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