Minister is urged to ‘hurry up’ on primary decision

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THE Education Minister has been asked to ‘hurry up’ on his decision whether to award Donacloney Primary School additional class spaces.

Ulster Unionist MLA Sam Gardiner has urged Education Minister John O’Dowd to come to a quick decision on the item.

Questioning the Education Minister during Question time, the Upper Bann MLA said Donacloney Primary definitely needed additional class space.

Education Minister John O’Dowd MLA told Mr Gardiner that when he could make a quick decision he would do this.

He added: “Some development proposals are very complex and bring into play factors that deserve further interpretation and interrogation.

“However, I assure the Member that I will take on board all the consultation responses and come to a decision as quickly as possible.”

The Minister added: “In the case of Donacloney Primary School, the Southern Education and Library Board is the statutory authority with responsibility for publishing the development proposal.

“Before doing so, the board is required to consult schools that might be affected by the proposal. The SELB has confirmed that the consultation on Donacloney Primary School started during the week beginning Monday, September 17 and is scheduled to last for three weeks.

“Following that, a proposal will be presented for final board approval. Subject to final board approval being granted, the SELB plans to publish a development proposal requesting an increase in enrolment numbers at Donacloney Primary School.

“A statutory two-month period will then ensue during which anyone who wishes to express an opinion may do so directly to the Department of Education. All comments received will be taken into consideration when I make a decision on the proposal.”

The Minister was also pressed during Question Time by DUP MLA Sydney Anderson.

He said: “Donacloney Primary School is a very popular and well-respected school in my constituency and it is vital that it is able to respond positively to the increasing demand for enrolments within its catchment area.

“I therefore warmly welcome the Southern Education and Library Board’s approval of the development proposal to increase the school’s enrolment number from an eight class base to a nine class base.

“During oral questions in the Assembly I pressed the Minister of Education, John O’Dowd, on when he will make a decision, and also urged him to approve the development proposal as quickly as possible to allow both the school and parents to plan ahead.”

Mr Anderson added: “I will keep a close eye on progress as I am very keen to see an outcome which will meet the needs of the local community and offer real encouragement to the school, parents and potential pupils.”