Stormont meeting arouses Dickson fears

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Craigavon Senior High and Lurgan Junior High have been accused of being in cahoots with the Education Minister over plans to dismantle the Dickson Plan.

The accusation follows news that a meeting took place between the two schools and John O’Dowd at Stormont prior to controversial plans to merge Lurgan College and Craigavon Senior High.

The ‘MAIL’ was given copies of minutes from the meeting obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The meeting took place at Stormont on November 6 2012. Present were the Minister along with the principals and chairs of board of governors of Lurgan JHS and Craigavon SHS. The purpose was to brief the minister on the implications of the area based plan on Craigavon Senior High. Prior to the meeting a Collegiate plan had been proposed, a move supported by LJHS and CSHS.

At the meeting the possibility of merging Lurgan College and the Senior High at the College site was discussed. Since then, the bi-lateral model (Option A) has received the vote of the majority of post-primary schools in the area.

The source of the documents, a Dickson Plan supporter, expressed concerns that Lurgan College had not been invited to the meeting considering they were directly involved in the implications.

The source suggested LJHS and CSHS, alongside the Department of Education and the SELB, have “manufactured a situation whereby the Dickson Plan has to be dismantled.”

Craigavon SHS principal David Mehaffey said that due to accommodation issues and looming budget cuts the school lobbied politicians and in November 2012 took their case directly to the Education Minister.

“All of these meetings were about improving conditions for our pupils, not about dismantling the Dickson Plan,” said Mr Mehaffey.

“That is the crux of the matter. Despite the impression given in the media there is no-one at Craigavon Senior High School engaged in a campaign against the Dickson Plan.”