Row over maths move for students

Acting Principal Ruth Harkness.
Acting Principal Ruth Harkness.

A letter to pupils’ parents about moving their children from one maths course to another has led to a row,

Parents of a number of children at Craigavon Senior High School received the letter last week stating that, based on current results, their children would be moved off the GCSE maths course and onto an Essential Skills course.

While for some the move is seen as aiming to ensure children leave the school with some form of maths qualification, lobby group Education Equality for Lurgan accused the school of trying to boost its exam results.

A spokesman for the lobby group asked: “When are the Education Authority going to actually do something about this school?” They said they were alerted a number of months ago to issues at the school, Maths GCSE being highlighted as ‘a major problem’.

“Pupils complained they had no continuity in this particular subject with up to eight different teachers throughout the year.”

“The Education Authority cannot continue to ignore the totally unsatisfactory situation at this school, both with facilities and standard of education, it is simply not acceptable.”

Local DUP MLA Carla Lockhart and Cllr Terry McWilliams met with the Principal Ms Ruth Harkness and Head of Maths Mrs Brown.

Ms Lockhart said: “Today across Lurgan and Portadown campuses the teaching staff are devastated with some of the comments and very personal slurs on social media and as a result we requested that individual meetings are held with concerned parents to explain and discuss their child’s performance.

“It is important not to get caught up in the social media explanation but to take time and talk to the teachers and hold them to account requesting regular updates on your child’s progress.

“There is an open door policy and we have secured a commitment that they will take time to speak with each of the families concerned.”

Acting Principal Mrs Ruth Harkness said: “Craigavon Senior High School is committed to providing our students with a curriculum that best meets their needs and aspirations.

“Following a review of student progress at the end of the last academic year a decision was taken to revise the curriculum followed by a small proportion of students to help improve their outcomes in formal external assessments.

“As such the school has offered an equivalent course to GCSE Mathematics, Essential Skills Numeracy Level 1 and Level 2.

“Essential Skills is a nationally recognised qualification that provides a structure and subject content that teaches Maths through ‘real world’ scenarios.

“This pathway is offered by many post primary schools across Northern Ireland.

“We have shaped our curriculum offer to the individual needs of the students to allow them to reach their full potential, this will also create pathways through further/higher education, training and employment.

“I, along with the Board of Governors are fully committed to making the right decisions for our students that will empower them to reach their full potential.

“As a school we are committed to working closely with our students and their parents/carers to offer reassurance around their curriculum.

“The school will also continue to provide a broad range of interventions to support our students in reaching their full potential.

“This includes a comprehensive range of tutorials provided by our committed teaching staff on a voluntary basis, including after school and Saturday revision classes.”