Parents have their say on future of Craigavon Senior High School

Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.
Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.

Parents have been asked to have their say on the future of Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High School.

They have been invited to formulate proposals on the future of the school, which could have far reaching effects on the education system in Lurgan.

During a public meeting called by Upper Bann MLA Carla Lockhart last week she reiterated the DUP’s position on preserving the Dickson Plan in this area - where children are selected for grammar school or all-ability education at age 14.

Locally it means children move from Lurgan Junior High School to either Lurgan College or Craigavon Senior High.

However, the senior high school has been beset by problems with a lack of facilities - particularly for sports - at the landlocked campus. Adding to the problems is fluctuating numbers at the two year school which only has around 150 pupils.

Among suggestions mooted at last Thursday’s meeting was the creation of a four year school on a brand new site or to expand provision at Lurgan Junior High, there was little support for the original plan put forward by the senior high’s Board of Governors to close the town’s campus and bus children to the Portadown campus of the split site school.

There was even a suggestion that premises vacated by St Paul’s Junior High School or St Mary’s JHS could be used.

The basement room at Lurgan town hall was packed for the meeting, with Ms Lockhart cutting short her recuperation from a wrist operation to host the meeting - after her attempt to postpone the event to a later date met with a negative reaction.

There were, at times, some heated exchanges during the meeting with lobbyist Clive Maxwell critical of the DUP’s stance on the Dickson Plan which he said was failing Lurgan’s schoolchildren.

Ms Lockhart also confirmed any change to the senior high was now unlikely to happen before 2019 - a long way from the school board of governors position earlier this year which had originally proposed bussing Lurgan’s children to Portadown by September 2017.

The former chairman of Craigavon High School Board of Governors Tom McKay told the meeting: “I’m not against the Dickson Plan but can you tell me of any other system that has been up and running for 50 years without tweaking?”

Ms Lockhart said she had an assurance the children would stay in Lurgan and summed up possible solutions as putting mobile units at Lurgan Junior High, making the senior high a four year school and also looking at the viability of a new site.