‘No decision made on senior high’ says EA

Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.
Craigavon Senior High School, Lurgan Campus. INLM39-221.

The Education Authority has stressed ‘no decision’ has been made on the proposed closure of the Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High School.

Last year it emerged the school’s Board of Governors had proposed the closure of the campus and that children would be bused to Portadown - with governors wanting the move made by September 2017.

At that stage they were told that would not be possible as a consultation process would be required given such a major change was being proposed.

Now the Education Authority (EA) Director of Education John Collings has reassured parents that no decision has been made in relation to proposed changes to the two-site campus of Craigavon Senior High School.

He said: “Local people will be aware that there have been issues with the capacity of the Lurgan campus to fully meet the educational needs of its pupils. The issues range from concerns over curricular provision to the condition of the site and the impact the environment has on staff and pupils,” said Mr Collings.

“EA asked the governors of Craigavon SHS to make a recommendation to address these concerns – which they did in March 2017. The process then passed to EA, whose officers have been engaging with all post-primary schools in the Craigavon area, and with local political and community representatives since Summer 2017 in order to bring forward proposals to resolve the current issues at the Lurgan campus.

“EA will ensure proper and full consultation on all proposals to change the current provision at Craigavon High School.”

Mr Collings outlined the next steps in the process: “Over the next few months EA will ensure proper and full consultation on a number of options to address the current challenges at the Lurgan campus.

“Following this consultation, recommendations are then made to the EA Education Committee for a Development Proposal to be published.

“This proposal will be the option that can best meet the needs of young people in the area going forward. It is published in local press and there follows a two month statutory objection period.

“During this period, the Department of Education accepts representations in support of and in objection to the proposal. A decision to approve or reject the proposal is then taken by the Minister of Education (or the Permanent Secretary in the absence of a Minister).”

Mr Collings further reassured parents that EA and the governors of Craigavon Senior High School will not be proposing a change to the way in which schooling is organised in the Dickson Plan locality.

“I would reiterate the statement of 6 June, 2016, by the then Minister of Education, Peter Weir during a visit to a primary school in Portadown, when he offered local people ‘support and assurance for the continuation of the Dickson Plan system’.

“The Minister went on to say that he would ensure the Dickson Plan is not removed either directly or undermined through ‘stealth’. In other words, in the Dickson Plan locality pupils will continue to transfer from primary education settings to Junior High Schools in Lurgan, Portadown and Tandragee followed transfer to Lurgan College, Portadown College or Craigavon Senior High School at age 14.”

The Lurgan mail previously revealed that during a number of meetings last year the Board of Governors (BOG) had discussed the proposal to close the Lurgan campus which was then forwarded to the Education Authority for consideration.

In the minutes of those meetings it was noted in reference to a consultation process on the proposal: “Others (BOG members) worried that the process might bring up options other than the one which Governors had recommended.”

In that section of the minutes it was also noted some were confident the move could be achievable by September 2018 and that it was a temporary measure.