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Mossley Nursery

Open Enrolment Frequently Asked Questions

2nd Jan 2021

Open Enrolment Procedure 


FAQs- Frequently Asked Questions 

Each year we have queries from parents regarding the open enrolment procedure.  We have included these in order to assist parents this year due to us not holding a face to face open day event.  


I don’t have my child’s name on a waiting list, can I still apply?

Yes.  Not all schools compile a waiting list or expression of interest list.  All parents apply on an equal basis in January regardless of if you have expressed an interest in a school or not.  Some schools choose to keep a list in order to know how many people have an intention to apply.  Having a name held on a school list does not give you priority and parents still must apply through the same process.  The Education Authority online application process opens on 7th January 2021.  All details in relation to applying can be found at


I have not had a child at the nursery before, do I still have a chance of getting a place?

Yes.  There are both statutory criteria set by the Dept for Education and individual criteria set by the school.  ALL SETTINGS HAVE THEIR OWN INDIVIDUAL CRITERIA.  Not all settings have the same criteria which is why it is vital that you read the criteria for ALL SETTINGS YOU ARE CONSIDERING APPLYING FOR.  


Within Mossley NS, we do include siblings that have previously attended or may be attending currently.  We also include priority for any child that may be currently attending, for example, any child that attends in a pre-preschool/underage place. If you do not meet social disadvantage criteria, it does not mean that you cannot secure a place but it is highly unlikely that you will secure a full time place.  We only have 26 full time places and these are usually oversubscribed very quickly.  We have 52 part-time places therefore more chance of securing a part-time place for first time applicants.  Other settings may give priority to eldest or only children in their criteria.  Please be aware of this.  


If I applied for full time and was not successful, will I be offered a part-time place? 

 If you apply for full time and are not successful, you can only be considered for part-time if you select this as a separate additional preference.  If you do not select part-time as an additional preference, your application with Mossley Nursery School will end if you are refused a full time place with no selection made.  You can apply for both full-time and part-time.  Please remember though, If you have selected part-time as a subsequent preference (2nd, 3rd, 4th etc), those applications received for part-time 1st preference will be selected and placed first.  Additional preferences will only be allocated if places remain after 1st preference and in order.  

Is the criteria for all preschools and nursery places the same?


  1. Statutory criteria relating to social disadvantage and preschool age are the same for every setting.  Schools then set their own criteria agreed by their management committee or board of governors.  These are applied very strictly.  You MUST read the criteria for the schools and setting you are applying for.  There are no exceptions.  Supporting letters from medical professionals, MLAs, ministers, social workers cannot be taken into consideration.  Childcare circumstances cannot be taken into consideration.  Medical needs and special needs can only be considered where the Education Authority has involvement and has informed the school of such circumstances.  


Can I request an AM place if applying for part time? 

When you apply for part-time, you are applying for a part-time place.  This is a 2½ hour session.  You can mention that you would prefer a certain session but please remember that if you request a morning place only, you will only be considered for morning and will then not be considered for an afternoon place.  Your application for a place at Mossley Nursery will then end. We have 52 places to fill and once these are offered to parents for their child, children will not be moved around sessions.  


I have had a child at the nursery before, does this mean I will get a full time place?

No, this is not guaranteed.  We only have 26 full time places.  These are filled using the DE criteria firstly, full preschool age and any children whose parents are verified as socially disadvantaged by the benefits agency.  Following this, we apply our criteria published in relation to siblings (please check EA website for this).  With the remaining places, we will then apply the pre-published randomised alphabet letters of the first letter of your child’s surname in order to fill all remaining spaces.  It does not guarantee you a full time place as we are regularly over subscribed with siblings of families who have attended previously.  Please remember that you can only be considered for part-time if you have also selected part-time as a further preference.  


I am not sure if I am socially disadvantaged or not?  How do I find out and is it worth me going to get a form verified? 

The school does not verify if a parent receives social disadvantage status.  You will need to contact the benefits agency for verification.  Check the EANI website for further details.  If you are eligible, it will mean that your application may be further up the criteria and a benefit to your application.  Without verification, the school cannot apply the socially disadvantaged criteria to your application.  It could be the difference between securing a place and not securing a place in some circumstances.  

My child has additional needs, will they get support? 

Unfortunately, children cannot be provided with 1:1 support by the nursery school unless the Education Authority has assessed your child, along with medical professionals, prior to attendance.  In order to secure 1:1 support, your child must be allocated a Statement of Special Educational Needs by the EA.  Without this, your child can still be supported in school along with other children in their class, but 1:1 assistance cannot be provided.  For some children, transition to nursery can be difficult but for others support alongside their classmates is sufficient.  If you are worried about your child’s development or have any other worries about their needs, please speak to your Health Visitor or GP.  This can help your child to be assessed in advance and be much more proactive in order to assess your child’s individual needs in advance of starting nursery.  It is really useful to provide details of your child’s needs to the schools and preschools as this allows much more thorough planning in advance of meeting your child.  


I’m interested in applying for a full time place but my child is a fussy eater? Is this a problem? 

Full time places involve a child being developmentally able to cope with a much longer day.  Eating is one part of this.  If your child is fussy and will reluctantly only eat a few foods, this could be a problem.  Attending for a longer day means your child will get hungry.  Snack is provided each day with a range of fruits, breads, crackers and other healthy break options.  If your child is fussy it can be difficult to encourage them to eat.  At Mossley Nursery School, school dinners consist of a cooked school dinner with a varied menu.  For children who find eating difficult, it can be a very daunting time and can often unsettle them staying for the longer session.  


In addition to eating, toileting and independence is another aspect of a longer full time day.  Children will need to be able to access and take care of their needs for toileting, hand washing and personal hygiene.  We only have 2 staff to 26 children in a class and 1:1 support is not a reality.  Dinner involves all 26 children sitting together for a social lunch experience.  The children use real cutlery, plates and open cups for drinking.  They are sitting for 2 courses and must be able to cope with sitting at the table for this 45-50 minute period.  


If my child attends the nursery, does this mean they get priority to the primary school for P1. 


Mossley Nursery School is a stand alone school.  It is not attached, linked or affiliated to Mossley Primary School.  Attendance at the nursery school is NOT any way advantageous when applying for the primary school.  The children attending Mossley NS move on to a wide range of primary schools in the local and wider Newtownabbey area and further.  


Do you save spaces for underage, pre-preschool children and can my child apply when they are 2yrs and 10mths? 

We do not save or reserve any places for underage children.  No preschool setting reserves places.  The application process must give priority to children in their full preschool year before they attend Primary 1 the following year.  Pre-preschool, underage children, penultimate preschool are children who are in the year before their preschool year.  They still have a preschool year the following year.  It is true that you are able to apply for places BUT your child can only secure a place if there are places remaining after all full preschool children have been processed.  Underage children must not be placed before full age children.  Only where there are no more applications for full age children can underage children be considered.  This is also on a strictly eldest first (chronological) basis  (we would usually not get any further than July and August birth dates). We are regularly oversubscribed with full age children in Mossley Nursery School so it is rare that underage children will be placed.  This is not the same for all settings.  We only allocate places once per year so no additional children are admitted during the school year.   

Finally, I would strongly advise parents NOT to choose all full time preferences as it is highly likely that this will result in no place being allocated.  Even selecting a number of  full-time settings first and then part-time places as the lower preferences can result in your child not being placed.  Settings fill places quickly with 1st, 2nd, 3rd preferences and may be full by the time a later preference application reaches your application.