Support centre plan for school

Principal Fiona Kane
Principal Fiona Kane

There are plans for a new learning support centre and an autism class at Lismore Comprehensive in Brownlow.

The proposal follows the closure of Drumcree College (now St John the Baptist’s College) and its learning support centre.

The Education Authority is proposing two learning support centres, one at key stage 3 and one at key stage 4, along with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) class for key stages 3/4.

The proposal, submitted by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), has gone out for public consultation and the new centres are planned for September 2018 or as soon as possible afterwards.

A report by the CCMS says the learning support centres will be staffed by one full-time teacher and one classroom assistant. while the autism class will have one full-time teacher and two classroom assistants.

It is anticipated that additional accommodation costing around £250,000 will be needed.

Fiona Kane, principal of Lismore, said the school was asked a number of years ago by the Department of Education if it would be interested in such a centre and had indicated it would.

The centre would cater for children from across the wider Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council area.

Said Mrs Kane, “We are very pleased at the latest news, given the size, ethos and inclusive practice of our school.”

Mrs Kane said the school would not have enough room at present but that if mobile buildings are brought in then some of the existing classes would move to these while the learning support children would stay in the main school building.

She said, “In the drawings for our new build, our learning support centre is right at the heart of the school.

“The children wouldn’t be based there all day. They would come and go, with some of their classes being integrated with their peers. We will be guided by the need in the area.”