UPPER Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has reiterated her ‘steadfast’ support for the Dickson Plan and called on the Education Minister to instigate an immediate public inquiry.
Speaking during an Assembly debate the Ulster Unionist MLA said: “Families across Upper Bann are waking up to the very real threats which face the Dickson Plan, and uncertainty is playing heavily on their minds.
“The outright rejection of the SELB’s previous Area Planning proposal for a collegiate by over 86% of respondents came as no surprise and demonstrated the widespread support which exists within the community
for the retention of the Dickson Plan.
“However, the more recent SELB Area Planning proposal, known as Option A, will undoubtedly lead to the dilution of Grammar School education at Lurgan and Portadown Colleges which would be wholly unacceptable to
many within the community,” she said.
The MLA said decisions made by those in positions of authority ‘must be visible and beyond reproach’ and that is why she is calling for an inquiry.
“As a member of the Education Committee I have raised and praised the Dickson Plan and its outcomes for generations of children in Craigavon on countless occasions.
“Whilst the clear and present danger facing the Dickson Plan comes from SELB Area Planning, it is equally clear that a much greater long term threat comes from the Education Bill.
“The Ulster Unionist Party is united in our determination to oppose this Bill and the ultimate power which this would give to any future Education Minister.
“If the SELB is threatening the Dickson Plan system, I submit that the threat would pale into insignificance were the Education and Skills Authority to be established under the present Bill.”