Former College pupil hits out at inequalities

A former Lurgan College pupil, whose child now attends Craigavon Senior High, has labelled the Dickson Plan as ‘rubbish’.

The man, who didn’t wish to be named for fear of a backlash from Dickson Plan supporters, said every child deserves the same quality of education and this wasn’t happening in Lurgan.

He said sports facilities alone demonstrated the gulf between Craigavon Senior High and Lurgan College.

He commented: “My daughter, who has just started Craigavon Senior High, was forced to walk in the rain last week from the Senior High to Lurgan Junior High School for sports. The boys have to walk to the Rugby Club. It’s like being back to the dark ages with no funding for transport.

“The Craigavon Senior High pupils have no facilities whatsoever, yet the College get money thrown at it with their new 4G pitch, etc.”

The Lurgan man said: “We didn’t realise Schools were being run like this in these days - no transport, no pitches, not enough seats in the canteen, and no facilities at all for over 200 kids.

“Everything in the media is about saving the Dickson Plan, but you can see how the Senior High might just benefit from a combined school.”

He added: “My wife and I both went to Lurgan College, but feel The Dickson Plan is rubbish and every child deserves the same level standard of education, sadly this isn’t the case between the Senior High and the College.”

Principal of Craigavon Senior High School, Mr David Mehaffey, agreed that the accommodation on the Lurgan Campus of the school was inadequate.

“This is the point we have been making all along,” he said. “The children who attend Craigavon Senior High School in Lurgan are well served by the high quality of the teaching but the accommodation is not fit for purpose.”

Mr Mehaffey added: “Our most recent inspection report stated quite clearly that the quality of the physical accommodation at the Lurgan Campus was unsuitable. Another survey in 2010 found that our accommodation is approximately 64% less than what is specified by the Department of Education.

“This cannot continue. It is unjust to deny these children access to accommodation and resources that would be considered the norm in any other school.

“The real problem, however, is the one that is at the heart of the current debate. Without space for development the campus needs to be relocated and the options for relocation have major implications for our local education system.

“How best to accommodate these children is the debate that we actually should be having.”