College rejects board’s vision for post-primary future

Lurgan College.
Lurgan College.

LURGAN College have rejected the SELB’s recommendation in relation to the way forward for post-primary education in Lurgan.

Due to accommodation and viability issues at Craigavon Senior High, the SELB had been asked to come up with a plan which met the Education Minister’s approval.

With the Collegiate plan to amalgamate Lurgan College, Craigavon Senior High and Lurgan Junior High widely rejected, the SELB went back to the drawing board and put forward two options for the future of post-primary education.

Option A would see Lurgan Junior High School remain as it is while a bi-lateral school encompassing Lurgan College and the Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High would be created. Pupils transferring into the new school would go down either an academic or non-academic path.

Option B would see a brand new school for Craigavon Senior High built somewhere in Craigavon. The new school would be a four-year school with pupils from Lurgan and Portadown having to be bussed to the site.

The preferred options of affected post-primary schools had to be submitted at the beginning of the month.

Lurgan College have gone public with their support of Option B saying it is the only way to retain the Dickson Plan.

Option A is the board’s preferred option. Contrary to what the College believe, they say it is the best way to retain the Dickson Plan, whereby pupils transfer automatically at 11 then sit a test at 14 to see whether they enter selective or non-selective education.

Lurgan College’s Board of Governors have said the SELB should have been impartial in the process.

Option A was described by the College as “a disingenuously conceived misinterpretation of the Dickson two-tier system”. They said Option B will “retain distinctive grammar school provision, providing equality and parity with neighbouring towns and cities”.

A statement from Lurgan College Board of Governors said: “The loss, or the perceived loss, of a free-standing grammar school, as outlined in Option A, will result in a lack of parental choice and in parents opting out of the Dickson two-tier system.”

The governors said they do not understand how any school could operate on the basis of having both a selective and a non-selective intake at Key Stage 4.

They stated: “Option B, which involves the creation of a bespoke single campus 14 to 19 Craigavon Senior High School, will secure enhanced accommodation, curricular provision and appropriate pathways for the young people.

“Option B will maximise educational outcomes whilst averting the needless upheaval, uncertainty and unwieldiness which would result from the imposition of Option A upon a community which has overwhelmingly rejected the ‘collegiate’ structure.”

When contacted, Lurgan Junior High and Craigavon Senior High would not reveal which option they’d chosen, saying the matter is now in the hands of the board and that it will be for the board to make its decision on the way forward.