Collegiate proposal is rejected
FIVE schools in the controlled sector have rejected a collegiate model, claiming it would not be the best way forward for education in the area.
Tandragee JHS, Clounagh JHS, Killicomaine JHS, Portadown College and Craigavon Senior High all outlined their opposition to the proposal in their individual responses to the SELB’s consultation document.
The collegiate proposal would see the schools merge under the leadership of one principal and one board of governors.
The senior leadership team at Tandragee Junior High School said, “There is no evidence in the area plan that a five school merger would in any way improve the educational experience of pupils. It simply refers to management systems.
“A single collegiate of approximately 2,500 plus pupils may create a large impersonal entity within which the identities and ethos of constituent schools would be lost.”
Clounagh Junior High School’s Board of Governors also reaffirmed its support for the Dickson Plan. The governors said they had a strong preference to retain the current system and proposed immediate new builds for Portadown College, Lurgan College, Craigavon Senior High School (Portadown and Lurgan campuses).
They added,” Should modernisation of the Dickson Plan be necessary, the Governors would prefer a range of options, including the options for closer co-operation between the Junior High Schools in Portadown and Tandragee, and between the two Senior High Schools in Portadown with a separate solution for Lurgan.
“The governors firmly support the continued retention of a non-selective system at age eleven and wish to see a solution where opportunity and equality of provision are at the core of planning.”
The Board of Governors at Killicomaine Junior High School expressed disappointment at the lack of detail in the area plan and said it was based “on a false premise that there is something significantly wrong with the existing educational system in the Craigavon area”.
They said, “The governors do not see a strategic approach in the area plan designed to improve educational outcomes for young people...
“There is no evidence to justify the radical, uncertain and unsupported restructuring of post primary schools in Portadown. What is required is the restructuring of Craigavon Senior High School. As with other schools in the area plan, a special case should be made to allow restructuring to be achieved.”
Portadown College provided a brief, initial response saying it had not been given enough time to respond to the consultation. Among its comments, it said, “There is no evidence to indicate that the proposals will raise standards or that a distinctive grammar school option in this area would be retained. The Governors would be concerned that the proposals could jeopardise the attainment of academic excellence.
”The Dickson Plan has the widespread support of the local community and has a proven record in providing high quality education for pupils. The current system meets the pastoral, personal and academic needs of all students.
“The governors would prefer to see a new build for Portadown College on the current site and retention of the tried and tested two-tier system. The governors support a revision of the existing arrangements rather than a radical plan which is unsupported by evidence or research or indeed by the community.”
The school carried out its own consultation process, the results of which will be revealed next week.
The governors of Craigavon Senior High School said they did not believe the proposed collegiate would provide a long-term solution to the problems facing the controlled post primary sector. However, the governors accepted they will provide a forum whereby decisions on the long term future of education in Lurgan and Portadown/Tandragee can be made by local people.
They said,“The Governors believe that this is preferable to the prospect of change being imposed by others and on that basis support the proposals outlined in the Area Plan.
“The proposals do not address the accommodation shortcomings of the Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High School, nor do they provide a solution to the mounting financial problems faced by that school. There is an urgent need for an immediate solution for Craigavon Senior High School which cannot be addressed by the formation of a decision making body that is unlikely to come into operation before 2014.”
The board, in its report, said, “While consensus has not been reached on the collegiate proposals in the draft area plan, the board acknowledges that progress has been made and that further engagement with schools and their communities does offer the possibility of reaching a set of proposals that would command general acceptance.
“To this end, the board is committed to engaging with schools and community representatives early in 2013 in order to reach a determination which may be taken forward as a set of development proposals.
“In recognition of the pressing need to resolve financial and accommodation issues at Craigavon Senior High School, the board would seek to make a determination as a matter of urgency.”
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Weather for Portadown
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 12 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West