College consultation process findings back the Dickson Plan
A CONSULTATION process conducted by Portadown College has given a ringing endorsement to the Dickson Plan.
The school created a questionnaire on its website last year, asking people for their opionions following the publication of the Southern Education and Library Board’s controversial area plan proposals.
School staff, students, parents and members of the community completed the survey, with the College insisting the newly published results are a vindication of the Dickson Plan and a blow for a proposed collegiate system.
When asked whether they believed the 14 plus system used in the Dickson Plan area delivered an appropriate and balanced curriculum, more than 95 per cent of respondents said they agreed.
And when asked if they believed that a five-school collegiate for up to 3,000 students could “diminish the quality of education provision” within Portadown and Tandragee, more than 89 per cent of respondents agreed.
When asked if each school in the Portadown and Tandragee 14 plus system should remain independent with its own principal and board of governors, over 94 per cent either strongly agreed or agreed.
The findings of the survey have been described as an emphatic rejection of the collegiate structure by the chairman of the school’s Board of Governors, Peter Aiken.
The collegiate would see Portadown College, Tandragee Junior High, Clounagh and Killicomaine junior highs, and Craigavon Senior High School’s Portadown campus under the leadership of one principal and board of governors.
But Mr Aiken said the idea has no support in the community.
“The community has spoken and overwhelmingly rejected the idea of a collegiate. It is now incumbent upon us to examine more closely the particular circumstances that surround the delivery of post-primary education in the controlled sector in the Craigavon area, but especially in Portadown,” he said. “From this it should be possible to identify solutions that will continue to put young people first, providing quality, academic and vocational education.
“The governors of Portadown College in December 2012, took the decision that progress had to be made and requested the principal Mr Harper, to progress discussions with his professional colleagues and the SELB. Such dialogue is ongoing.
“There is a recognition that resources are not limitless. However, that does not mean we have to dispense with tried and tested arrangements as were suggested in the SELB Area Plan proposals which had been notified to the Department of Education before release.
“Our survey backs up our stance highlighting the importance of not acting in haste to change or impose untested governance arrangements. Most importantly it provides a backdrop for a renewed emphasis on exemplary informal voluntary collaboration between schools. This, Portadown College will seek to do during the coming months and years. One example of collaboration for our young people recently was the provision of an AS Law course between Portadown College, St Michael’s and Lurgan College.”
Simon Harper, the school’s principal, said the findings underline the “overwhelming support” for the two-tier system in Craigavon.
He said, “Our consultation also affirms the retention of our school on the existing site as the way forward. The notion of a collegiate has simply not featured as a preferred option and as such can now be laid to rest. The community has spoken and it is incumbent on all politicians and decision-makers to honour and respect their views.”
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Weather for Portadown
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South