School plans ‘not properly considered’

Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan.
Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan.

It could be 2019 before proposals for the future of Lurgan Campus of Craigavon Senior High School are realised.

It was also claimed decisons about Lurgan children’s future education are being made without ‘correctly considering their effects on the communuity’.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: “It is becoming clearer each day that the political impasse in Northern Ireland is affecting our children’s education and safety.

“At the same time it is also evident that decisions about our children’s future and their education in Lurgan are being made without correctly considering the options and their effects on the community.”

He added: “Recent minutes show that Craigavon Senior High School (CSHS) Board of Governors(BoG) attempted to bulldoze through a decision to bus students from the Lurgan Campus to a consolidated site at the Portadown school by September 2017.

“I have now learned that the Education Authority (EA) believe this option or other options for the Lurgan Campus will now not be delivered until

September 2019.

“This means that those pupils presently in the Lurgan Campus - in the most unsuitable conditions - unable to complete a full educational curriculum with adequate sporting or recreational facilities and serious safeguarding issues will be left at this site for another two years.

“I lay the blame firmly at the door of the BoG who, instead of engaging with the community, attempted to drive on with their own agendas. It must have been obvious to them as it was to everyone else that a full consultation was necessary. This could have started by April 2017 enabling a proper options appraisal and a decision allowing a move to take place by September 2018.

“I made it clear some time ago that keeping these children in the present sub-standard facilities at the Lurgan Campus was unacceptable and must be viewed as a political failure and a failure of the EA to deliver a vision for educational equality in Lurgan.

“Further to this, it has also become clear that without a Minister there is likely to be no decision in respect of the options that are to be considered. A damning indictment of some political representatives who do not see our children’s education as a priority. Or worse, will happily promote the Grammar sector while ignoring the plight of the rest.”

Mr Beattie said he will continue to lobby both the EA and the Education Permanent Secretary to make the issue of the Lurgan Campus a priority and deliver a vision for the children by September 2018.

He added: “I will not accept that because the last Education Minister set educational parameters for the schools that form part of the Dickson Plan we cannot make pragmatic decisions that support our children.

“The parents of Lurgan will not accept this uncertainty regarding their children’s education. They deserve better!

“The Dickson Plan is there to serve all the children and indeed the principles of the Dickson Plan can be easily retained while at the same time deliver an educational vision for our children who will not receive a grammar school education.”