A DUP MLA has demanded answers from the Minister of Education John O’Dowd and the SELB regarding what he described as ‘secret discussions’ on the future of schools in the Dickson Plan area.
Upper Bann MLA said the consultation process was beginning to look like nothing more than a sham.
He said: “The Minister and all involved need to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding discussions and a planned meeting with Lurgan Junior High School, Craigavon Senior High School and Minister O’Dowd on 6th November 2012.
“Documentation prepared for the meeting which has been uncovered by Mr Harpur and Mr Robinson of Portadown and Lurgan College states; ‘It is unlikely that the Collegiates [amalgamated grammars and high school] can begin operation before September 2014. However, we would recommend the formation of a Board of Governors and the appointment of a principal designate to begin work on January 1, 2014’.
“This documentation points to direct involvement at senior levels within the Department of Education before the so-called consultation with post-primary schools. It also suggests that the SELB has been involved as well. Who was involved in these discussions for the SELB and was the Education Minister directly involved?
“This causes us great concern around the legality of the consultation. This paper would suggest that there was a pre-determined outcome therefore making the consultation farcical and suggesting the whole process was a sham. Those involved need to come clean and start answering questions.”