On Tuesday 14 June 2016 Mr Chris Lyttle presented a petition in the Assembly. The petition will be lodged with the Minister of Education and a copy will be sent to the Committee.
From the Official Report (Hansard):
Mr Speaker: Mr Chris Lyttle has sought leave to present a public petition. In accordance with Standing Order 22, the Member will have up to three minutes to speak.
Mr Lyttle: It is a privilege to have the opportunity to present this petition of over 6,000 signatures to the Education Minister on behalf of the Parents for Equal Education Coalition, calling for full-time nursery provision for children with special educational needs in our community to be maintained.
Children like Charlie and parents like Angela and the many others who have gathered at Parliament Buildings today have been an inspiration to me and many other MLAs. The dignity and commitment that they are showing in their fight for full-time special educational needs nursery provision for their children is in stark contrast to the totally unacceptable approach of the Education Authority, which has failed to disclose to this Assembly parental and principal opposition to its proposals and to engage with parents meaningfully on the issue.
I call on the Education Minister to avoid becoming associated with that flawed approach and to make clear his support for full-time special educational needs nursery provision in our community.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for accepting this petition on behalf of the over 300 children who are only three years old and face having their future made more uncertain. I hope that the Minister of Education will receive this petition. As I said, over 6,000 members of the public agree that we should be giving our children with special educational needs the very best start in life and should be maintaining those vital early education services. I know the Education Minister is monitoring this extremely serious issue. I call on all MLAs to wake up to the urgency of the issue and work together to ensure that the reductions do not happen.