The principal of Lurgan Junior High School and chair of its Board of Governors have written to parents urging them to make themselves heard on the future of secondary education in Lurgan.
And they said the Co Armagh school does not want to see pupils bussed to Portadown.
Principal Mrs Lynda Currie and Board of Governors Chair Tom McKay were commenting ahead of a public consultation on the future of Craigavon Senior High School’s Lurgan Campus - for which the junior high is a feeder school.
In a letter to parents they said: “We know many of you have concerns about what will happen to your children following their education at Lurgan Junior High School.
“The Governors and the Principal of Lurgan Junior High School are happy to answer your questions.”
Explaining the purpose of their letter they said: “In the week commencing Monday, January 14, 2019 the Education Authority will begin to consult with you as parents about the future of Craigavon Senior High School (Lurgan Campus).”
The consultation will take place in Lurgan Junior High School seeking views about secondary education in Craigavon Senior High School – Lurgan Campus – for 14–16 year olds who transfer to Craigavon Senior High School after Year 10 in Lurgan Junior High School.
They said: “We do not wish our pupils to be bussed to Portadown. Parents in Moira, Maralin and other outlying areas would rightly be thinking whether a bus to Lurgan, then another bus to Portadown in the morning, then reverse the process in the afternoon - earlier starting and later finishing – would be conducive to their children’s well-being or learning.
“The best way to meet their needs is that they remain on the Toberhewny site where teachers who know them, really know them, can offer them a first-class education.
“Educators will tell you that transition at any age can bring regression for many children so why in Lurgan are we willing to let this happen?
“Previous Craigavon Senior High School principals often said it took at least a full term for pupils to settle down to learn. We are always teaching for readiness and when relationships are formed, the learning can begin.”
They said staff at Lurgan Junior High School ‘would willingly embrace these young people and provide for them the best educational outcomes possible with a curriculum suited to their needs’.
Their letter added: “The ideal solution would be for the pupils to remain on the Toberhewny site at a new 11-16 school, which would accommodate not only our 11-14 children but also those who would have gone on to Craigavon Senior High School (Lurgan Campus). Naturally those selected at 14 could continue to transfer to Lurgan College.
“A second preference would be for Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus to relocate temporarily to the Toberhewny site, while a long-term solution, such as the one above, could be considered.”
They also pointed out: “We look, with both envy and admiration, at the plans for St Ronan’s College to have a £32 million new school and Lismore Comprehensive with a new school on the way and congratulate them both. Our pupils deserve to be treated equally.
“Lurgan Junior High School is almost 60 years old so now is the time to be bullish and push for a modern, state of the art solution for all children in our catchment area.”
In an appeal to parents they said: “Make every effort to attend the consultation meeting, Ask questions at the meeting, Speak up for your children – all are important whether Grammar or High School pupils. The future education of your children in Lurgan is at stake!”