Call for openness in consultation process

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The Education Equality for Lurgan group have described the EA’s statement on Craigavon Senior High as ‘underwhelming with nothing new to offer’.

The statement, they said, was ‘a sleight of hand and quite disingenuous with the wording’.

They added: “We were expecting to receive a timeline for the consultation process and a summary of where the EA is actually at in that process.

“The language used would suggest there has been very little work done to date, an entire year after the initial submission by the BoG which as they well know the BoG submission (bussing Lurgan children to Portadown) would have been the only proposal going forward, only for the EA legal team put a stop to it.

“The evidence we have from BoG minutes points to the fact that Board Officers were involved in the hatching and implementation of the... plan to close Lurgan Campus and transfer the pupils to Portadown. We believe that it’s time to put Board Officers in place who recognise and understand the importance of the Protestant ethos and who empathise with and support the Lurgan controlled school community.

“In quoting the Minister of Education, Mr Collings conveniently ignored the fact that when visiting the Birches PS Peter Weir also stated ‘It is important that lessons are learned to improve our system’ and we expect those improvements be made for the benefit of all during this process. We have outlined in a communication to the EA a few of the more obvious improvements that we feel needs addressed.”

These included reversing 20 years of underinvestment in the senior high and addressing the issue that grammar schools offered too many places thus depriving the SHS.

They added: “We demand this process is open and transparent from the very beginning unlike back in March 2017 when the plan had been to sneak the BoG recommendation through without consultation with those that would be most impacted by the decision. We have asked that the EA supply a timeline for this process immediately and that the community be kept updated on the completion of each stage.”