DUP calls for a halt to school consultation

Carla Lockhart
Carla Lockhart

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart, Cllr Terry McWilliams, Cllr Mark Baxter and Cllr Stephen Moutray have called on the Education Authority to halt their “flawed” consultation on the future provision of the Lurgan campus of the Senior High School.

The consultation was started on 14th January and is due to close early March.

The MLA said she was asking for the consultation to stop, a temporary Lurgan solution put in place for 2019 and a formal group to be established to look at a long term Lurgan solution that will retain the children in Lurgan, provide high quality education and protect the Dickson plan.

Ms Lockhart said she had consulted widely with parents, community representatives, business leaders and other stakeholders.

“I have and always will be committed to securing a Lurgan solution that provides high quality educational opportunities for both vocational and academic children,” she said.

“I also believe that there remains overwhelming support for the retention of the Dickson Plan and any solution cannot fundamentally undermine this system.

“Having spoken widely to stakeholders I believe there is an agreement on finding a solution that retains the children in Lurgan for educational, economic and social reasons and to this end I will be championing the following resolution to the current impasse; 1. The current EA consultation needs to cease with immediate effect.

2. A temporary solution needs put in place consisting of modular buildings on the Lurgan Junior High School site with the Senior High continuing to run causing no change in teaching contracts and transition but a reduction in running costs.

3. A strategic group be formed consisting of an impartial chair, principals (Primary and Post Primary), parents, community, businesses, politicians and any other key stakeholders to look at implementing a long term Lurgan solution that in no way undermines the Dickson Plan.

“It would be appropriate for this group to look into the detail and out-workings of the community proposed 11 - 16 High School model with selection being retained at 14, and other suggestions such as a 14 - 18 Senior High School build on the Junior High site which would run as an autonomous four year school with its own management structures or any other solution that fundamentally retains the children in Lurgan, retains the Dickson Plan with selection at aged 14 and ultimately provides high quality educational opportunities for vocational and academic young people.

“Each of these options needs looked at primarily with the educational opportunities for the children being to the fore, the out-workings of change to teaching posts with avoidance of any disruption to teaching staff and transition of children and cannot undermine the Dickson Plan.

“There needs to be clear head space and unity to resolve this matter and to that end I believe this is a logical and achievable way forward.”