Assurances on Dickson Plan during school visit

First Minister, Arlene Foster and Education Minister, Peter Weir pictured getting their hands dirty with P1 pupils of Birches Primary School and their teacher Claire Morrow. Pupils included are from left, Faith Hall, Karis Armstrong and Hayley Dunlop. INPT23-263.
First Minister, Arlene Foster and Education Minister, Peter Weir pictured getting their hands dirty with P1 pupils of Birches Primary School and their teacher Claire Morrow. Pupils included are from left, Faith Hall, Karis Armstrong and Hayley Dunlop. INPT23-263.

The Dickson Plan is safe, acccording to the new Education Minister Peter Weir.

Speaking during a visit to Birches Primary school in Portadown, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its opening, Mr Weir took the opportunity to issue an assurance on the plan.

Accompanied by First Minister Arlene Foster he reassured parents, pupils and schools which operate under the Dickson Plan that he is not seeking to dismantle the unique educational system which operates in this part of the province.

Mr Weir praised the educational establishment as “an excellent school at the heart of the community, that has produced excellent educational delivery for half a century”.

He added: “It is important that lessons are learned to improve our system, but also that we protect what is working within our system.

“During the last mandate there were considerable concerns created by the threat to effectively dismantle the Dickson Plan system.

“The Dickson Plan has proved very successful in this local area with strong support from the local community.

“I want to assure people locally that I will be offering support and assurance for the continuation of the Dickson Plan system, and will be ushering in a period of educational stability on the issue.

“This is something that works, and so I will ensure that the Dickson Plan is not removed either directly or undermined through stealth, and that any threat is now lifted.”

Local MP David Simpson expressed his delight at the comments: “The Dickson Plan overall has been a success for over four decades. Given that selection is at 14 it allows children to mature more before streaming into Grammar or Vocational Schools. This is a unique system within Northern Ireland and has proven to be a success in this area through academic achievements and also sporting.

“I am delighted with this decision. It came on the back of much lobbying by parents, local principals and the Democratic Unionist Party.”