Ulster Unionist MLA for Upper Bann, Doug Beattie MC, has called for clarity on the future of Craigavon Senior High School and for decision makers to be open and transparent about decisions that are being made about the future of school provision in the Lurgan area.
Mr Beattie said: “There are real and serious concerns within the local community about the future of Craigavon Senior High School and the overall school provision in the Lurgan area. There must be clarity on this issue sooner rather than later.
“In a recent statement made by DUP representatives in the area the tone was very much as if they were the gatekeepers to the information, privy to facts that the rest of the public seem to be held back from.
“It is now clear these political representatives knew about the option to bus pupils from Lurgan to Portadown and indeed were pivotal in bringing it before the Board of Governors and the Education Authority. A DUP councillor was chair of the options committee and a DUP member and proposer the vice chair.
“It is also clear that a decision was made in early March to close the school and bus the pupils to Portadown by September 2017 by both the Board of Governors and at an Education Authority level.
“However, this was only prevented when the Education Authority received legal advice advising them to conduct a Development Proposal against the wishes of the Board of Governors.
“No political representatives should have a monopoly over what should or should not be released as critical information to those affected most. Without openness and transparency, how can the public have any confidence in these decision making structures.”
The Progressive Unionist Party also voiced strong strongly opposition the porposed closure’
They said the proposal will leave Lurgan without a senior non-selective post primary school.
They added: “The process has been without public consultation and lacks all transparency. It comes after decades of inadequate investment in Craigavon Senior High School. The neglect and under-investment in this school has compounded the problem of educational underachievement.
“This closure can only be detrimental to the Unionist community and the DUP’s acquiescence to such a harmful decision is a total abrogation of its responsibility to the people of Lurgan.”
Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd said: “There needs be a holistic approach to education in the controlled sector in Lurgan as has happened in the Catholic sector. The Grammar sector can no longer ignore the needs of all the pupils in Lurgan.”
The SDLP were approached for comment but at time of going to press had not responded.