More information and debate is needed before any decision is made on the Dickson Plan, a local PUP representative has said.
John Stevenson said, “Driving an agenda based primarily on behalf of the grammar sector will not provide best outcomes for all of the children in our community.”
He said that while the party agreed that a form of grammar education should be retained, the issue of a move for Craigavon Senior High School needs to be properly addressed and a case for this option plainly laid out.
The party has spoken to the principals of all seven schools involved in the proposal and will release a discussion paper today (Friday) outlining school responses and setting out a number of additional options, including Portadown-only and Lurgan-only proposals.
The education board’s preferred option is Option A, under which Killicomaine, Clounagh and Tandragee junior highs would be united under a single Board of Governors while Portadown College and Craigavon Senior High would become a bilateral, 14-18 school.
Under Option B the junior highs and Portadown College would remain as they are and a new school would be built in central Craigavon combining the Portadown and Lurgan campuses of Craigavon Senior High.
Meanwhile, the debate continues apace with parents, politicians and pupils all having their say.
A meeting of Tandragee Concerned Parents’ Group took place on Wednesday night attended by more than 100 people. Councillor Paul Berry said, “It was decided that a bigger committee will be formed and one of the plans is to speak to the Board of Governors about their stance. There is no doubt that if Option A was implemented...Tandragee JHS would end up the poorer cousins of this dreadful proposal.”
On Thursday, October 17 at 8pm, Upper Bann MP David Simpson is hosting a ‘Save the Dickson Plan’ rally in the Civic Centre with Stormont education chairman Mervyn Storey the main speaker.
And a group of Portadown and Lurgan College students met recently to discuss how to best demonstrate their support for Option B.
But Craigavon Senior High principal David Mehaffey said the debate that was really needed was how best to accommodate his school’s pupils.
He was responding to the comments of a former Lurgan parent, whose child attends Craigavon Senior High, and who had criticised the facilities.
Mr Mehaffey agreed that the accommodation on the Lurgan Campus was inadequate. “It is unjust to deny these children access to accommodation and resources that would be considered the norm in any other school,” he said.
“The campus needs to be relocated, with major implications for our local system.”