Parents and pupils want to keep Catholic education in the town
MAINTAINING Catholic post-primary education in Portadown was one of the main issues raised in support of Drumcree College.
Almost 700 people responded to the SELB questionnaire with nearly all supporting the maintenance of Catholic post-primary provision in the town, and saying that options other than closure should have been presented for consultation.
Respondents questioned whether options had been fully explored and noted that the proposal ignored the possibility of collaboration between post-primary schools in the Portadown and Craigavon areas, commenting that this area is geographically closer to Drumcree than Armagh.
They were also unhappy about children having to travel outside their local community to Armagh or Craigavon for post-primary education claiming this would impact adversely on access to after-school clubs and activities and could lead to higher rates of absenteeism and school refusal.
There were many favourable comments on the quality of education provided by Drumcree College which was perceived as meeting the social, emotional and spiritual needs of young people as well as their educational needs.
It was noted that pupil numbers had increased recently and that the post primary age population was projected to rise in the area between 2015 and 2025.
There was concern, too, about the future of the school’s Learning Support Unit, with many respondents pointing out that it is the only maintained unit for Portadown, Craigavon and Lurgan.
Many supporters commented that Drumcree is an area of social deprivation and that closure of Drumcree College would add to that deprivation.
A small number of responses (78) were received in languages other than English and indicated that the consultation documentation should have been translated into various languages for all members of the community to complete.
These foreign nationals expressed satisfaction with the school and expressed concerns about moving to a bigger school where pupils felt they would receive less individual help from teachers.
Many respondents said they did not understand the plan or the consultation questions and some said the questionnaire was not user-friendly and served to exclude people from responding.
A large number proposed transforming the Drumcree College campus into an educational village accommodating the two local primary schools as well as the post-primary school to utilise the facilities on the site and to create an educationally and financially viable option.
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Weather for Portadown
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North