Concern over progress on addressing issues at school

Children gather outside the Senior High School at lunchtime in cramped surroundings on the campus.
Children gather outside the Senior High School at lunchtime in cramped surroundings on the campus.

Concerns have been expressed about the apparent lack of progress in reaching a solution for the issues faced by the Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High school.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: “I am becoming increasingly concerned that the political stalemate at Stormont is now going to impact on the children who attend the Lurgan Campus of the Craigavon Senior High School (CSHS).

“During conversations with the Education Authority (EA) on multiple occasions it was made clear that there would be a series of recommendations on how they will deal with the Lurgan Campus and from those recommendations a development proposal would be brought forward.

“The first stage of that process was to be delivered to the community in mid-June yet here we are at the beginning of August without a single step being taken in dealing with the issue.”

He went on: “In the absence of an Education Minister it would now appear that the EA are nervous about taking any decision in respect of CSHS. I find this totally unacceptable given the EA themselves have identified the Lurgan campus as not being fit for purpose with serious safeguarding and health and safety issues for the pupils.

“The EA have a duty to our young people and they cannot hide behind the political stalemate on an issue so serious. I would appeal to the Children’s Commissioner to now get involved and I have written to her to ask for an urgent meeting.

“As it stands the majority of pupils in the Dickson Plan area are well served and if that is what the community wants then there should be no change to this system.

“But the Dickson plan must also make sure that the remaining 40% of children are served just as well. It would be shameful to allow them to continue to be educated on an inadequate site, as would bussing them out of town to be consolidated at the Portadown site purely for the expediency of those who feel threatened by educational change in the Dickson plan area.

“The Board of Governors of the Lurgan Junior High School have voted unanimously to invite those at the Lurgan campus of the CSHS onto their site and the EA have the ability to put in a place a plan to have those children educated on the Toberhewney site while a full development plan is put in place.

“It is what those from the community who’s children go to the Lurgan Campus want, what they don’t want is to have to bus their children to Portadown.

“The inaction from the EA is having a detrimental effect on the welfare and wellbeing of the children, their parents and teachers as well as support staff. The community cannot sit idly by and allow this to happen but without meaningful engagement it now seems this saga of poor education for the forgotten 40% will continue.”