College behind retention of the two-tier structure

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WITH just over a week until the end of the consultation period for the SELB’s Area Plan, Lurgan College have encouraged parents and pupils to get involved.

The Strategic Area Plan put forward by the SELB envisages the creation of two collegiates in Lurgan and Portadown, each of which will have one board of governors and one principal.

The Board of Governors at Lurgan College are opposed to any amalgamation in Lurgan that would lead to the loss of the town’s grammar school.

The school are also seeking clarification on what ‘retention and reorganisation’ of the schools would mean in real terms.

A spokesman for Lurgan College stated: “In both towns the board proposes to ‘retain but reorganise’ the current schools and campuses.

“It is the SELB’s view that this will provide a structure for delivering education through ‘modernising’ the Craigavon Two Tier System and that it will build on the many successes of the current system.

“The Board of Governors of Lurgan College, remaining committed to the retention of the Craigavon Two Tier System, welcomes the opportunity to consider any proposal which explicitly states that all three post-primary schools in Lurgan (Lurgan College, Craigavon Senior High and Lurgan Junior High) are to be retained.

“This retention must not be short-term, however, as a long term amalgamation of all or some of the schools would result in the regrettable loss of the town’s prestigious grammar school.

“The governors are seeking guarantees from the SELB that such an amalgamation will not be foisted upon the people of Lurgan in the future.”

The College spokesman added: “In addition to seeking a guarantee from the SELB that all three schools will be retained in the long term, the College governors have highlighted concerns in relation to the following areas:

“The lack of clarity and detail in relation to what retention and reorganisation of the schools would actually entail;

“The threat to individual schools’ identities and ethos as the result of a management system with one Board of Governors and one principal;

“A clarification regarding what a ‘modernised’ Two Tier System actually means – does this include the continued provision of a grammar school for the young people of Lurgan;

“The absence of any fully ‘costed’ solution to the current financial deficit at Craigavon Senior High School over both its campuses;

“The absence of any solution to the unquestionable accommodation issues at the Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High School;

“A clarification of the term ‘academic excellence’ used in the consultation document – is this the preservation of the current form of academic selection at age 14 or is it simply academic ’streams’ in the context of a single all ability solution

“The absence of a clear statement of how the new system would promote greater equality of access to appropriate education for all young people than the current two tier system;

“The absence of consideration of the impact of a predicted rise in pupil numbers within 12 years (up to 1600 pupils) – all empty places will be filled – in fact, there will be a 4% shortage by 2025.”

All parents of Lurgan College pupils have been sent a copy of the relevant section of the consultation document and a copy of the consultation questionnaire.

The school’s principal and board of governors are urging all parents and pupils to complete the consultation questionnaire which can also be found at www.puttingpupilsfirst.info if they would prefer to respond electronically.

The closing date for responses is Friday, October 26.