The Southern Education and Library Board has set out its rationale for restructuring the Dickson Plan two-tier system in an information leaflet being issued to parents this week.
Some 12,000 leaflets are being circulated in line with the Board’s decision to embark upon a local consultation exercise in relation to its contentious ‘Option A’ proposals.
The Board has sent the information pack to schools, including recognised feeder primaries, for onward circulation to parents, staff and governors.
In addition to the leaflet there is a short questionnaire. As well as seeking to gauge support for each aspect of the Option A proposals, the questionnaire has a blank section for respondents to “suggest any viable alternative proposals.”
Under Option A, Portadown College and the local campus of Craigavon Senior High School would be brought together under a single management structure as a bi-lateral school with selective and non-selective intakes.
The SELB insisted last week that the enlarged Portadown College, expected to educate around 1,200 pupils, would retain its official status as a Controlled Grammar.
Additionally, the Board is proposing to create a new Portadown and Tandragee Junior College in place of the three junior high schools which currently operate in the area.
In its leaflet, the Board insists it “wants to safeguard the Dickson Plan for the future through the maintenance of a two-tier system of viable and sustainable schools.”
Critics claim Option A represents a radical departure from Dickson but the Board asserts that its proposals are true to fundamental Dickson principles, notably automatic transfer from primary school with delayed academic selection from age 14.
The Board also highlights concerns surrounding Craigavon Senior High School.