Colleges call for talks

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The boards of governors at Lurgan and Portadown colleges have taken the initiative in a bid to resolve the impasse over the timing of transfer exams.

Trevor Robinson of Lurgan College, and his Portadown counterpart Simon Harper, have written to the boards of governors of the four junior high schools in the Lurgan and Portadown area.

They have suggested a meeting involving all seven schools in the Dickson Plan and have proposed two possible dates for it to take place, on either Wednesday, June 3 or Monday, June 8.

The move comes as the schools remain at loggerheads over the timing of transfer tests.

Lurgan and Portadown colleges insist that the move by the junior high schools to release examination information later than normal had impacted on their preparations for the following academic year.

The letter from the headmasters said, “We accept that the decision to move the release of academic information to a later date was made for reasons which the Boards of Governors of the various Junior High Schools felt to be in the best interests of their Year 10 pupils and we would not presume to comment on this. However, this does present extremely serious difficulties for the senior high schools.

“This year, at the request of the SELB, Portadown College and Lurgan College moved the date for sending out placement letters to prospective Year 11 pupils to May 15 2015. However, this has impacted adversely on the schools’ induction programmes which encompass pastoral, special educational needs, careers guidance and subject choice. We can only imagine that the operational challenges faced by Craigavon Senior High School are even greater as it will have its definitive list of pupils who have accepted places even later than the two colleges.”

The colleges noted that since February, they had made “numerous requests” to the SELB and Educational Authority to arrange a meeting of the “chairs and principals of all seven ‘Dickson Plan’ schools”. However, the colleges said these requests had “not met with any success”.