A LOCAL school principal has accused the Education Minister of using the current economic climate to dismantle the Craigavon Two Tier System.

Lurgan College Principal Trevor Robinson has said serious consideration is now being given to the establishment of a school for 11 to 19-year-olds on the College site.

Mr Robinson said the move has been brought about following the publication of viability audits, which he claimed are being used to “tear down the Dickson Plan”.

The College principal has written to parents urging them to voice their concerns with local politicians and community leaders.

In the letter to parents Mr Robinson said: “It is clear that the Minister of Education is attempting to take ‘opportunistic’ advantage of the current economic climate to drive forward his ideologically driven comprehensive agenda.”

Mr Robinson said that while the viability audit showed Lurgan College to be sustainable, he had “no doubt the Minister will use the alleged financial unviability of some other schools in the area as a pretext for tearing down the Dickson Plan and replacing it with some form of so called ‘modernised’ Craigavon Two Tier System.”

Commenting further on the letter which all parents received last week, Mr Robinson stated: “As headmaster of Lurgan College, I felt that it was my duty to inform the parents and pupils of the school first and foremost of the regrettable consequences of the viability audits and the forthcoming area based planning proposals.

“The governors have remained consistent in their approach since the start of the whole debate about future educational provision in Lurgan.

“They have continually stated publicly that they would continue to support the very successful Dickson Plan until it was decided by others that it was no longer a viable option. It appears that we have now reached that point.”

He added: “Despite deeply lamenting the collapse of the system, brought about exclusively by the architects of comprehensive education, the governors are determined to ensure that the young people of Lurgan are not deprived of a high quality grammar school education which pupils in neighbouring towns such as Lisburn and Banbridge will continue to enjoy.

“The College governors are forced, therefore, to give serious consideration to the establishment of a high quality 11-19 grammar school on the College Walk site, complemented by an equally high quality 11-16 (or 11-19) non-selective school on the Toberhewny Lane site.

“This tried and tested model would be, by far, the most cost effective and more educationally beneficial for all pupils than a ‘one size fits all’ comprehensive system; it would also ensure, once and for all, that the young people who, attend Craigavon Senior High School (Lurgan Campus) would, from now on, be afforded the educational experience and up-to-date facilities to which they have an undeniable right.

“It would also ensure that there would be no loss of the most academically talented pupils to schools outside the town of Lurgan at both primary and post-primary level. This would be an absolute win-win situation for all the young people of Lurgan and would surely be worthy of the support of the whole community. I ask that no one allows ideological standpoints to blind him/her to the obvious educational benefits which pupils of all abilities would derive from this new arrangement.”