Three Upper Bann MLAs have backed a ground-breaking plan to build a state of the art educational hub in Lurgan.
Following lobbying by those seeking to retain a Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High School, the MLAs voiced their support to the campaigners.
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie described it as a ‘positive and bold vision for the future’
He said: “I will send out a strong message that we will no longer accept under-achievement by both Protestant boys and to a lesser degree Protestant girls. This is a vision all educational sectors should be able to support and it would create an educational hub in Lurgan that will be both innovative and complimentary to the Maintained sector.”
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said, “I have and continue to champion the best educational offering for all children across the Upper Bann. I am disappointed at the lack of investment in the Controlled sector estate over the past 20 years particularly in the tenure of Minister O’Dowd. This has emanated in a dire estate problem at the Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High School.
“I want to see a Lurgan solution achieved. I do not support the proposed temporary solution to have children travel to the Portadown Campus and the closure of the Lurgan Campus. I have been working with the Education Authority, local community leaders and parents to ascertain views and suggestions with regards to a long term solution to the problem at hand.
“The Dickson Plan is much loved and I welcome the fact that Minister Peter Weir secured the preservation of this system. Delayed selection within the area is unique and one that people want to retain. However, we cannot continue with children being educated in sub-standard buildings. I want to see a resolution which ensures that children and young people are educated locally. I want to see major investment in our primary, and post-primary dwellings. It is not an option to do nothing,” she said adding that she has asked the Education Authority to host a series of public meetings in the Lurgan area on this topic.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said: “Bussing children from Lurgan to Portadown has always been a short sighted decision and a temporary solution. This vision is both achievable and permanent and I would urge the Education Authority to take it seriously and see it as a viable Lurgan solution to the issues surrounding the Craigavon Senior High School.”
“We have been contacted by Education Equality Lurgan and we have agreed to meet and discuss their concerns and proposals.
“Undoubtedly, as in health there are tough decisions to be made in the education sector. Recent statistics show that there will be an increase need in the provision of school places within the ABC council area and Lurgan has by far the highest density of population than other near towns i.e. Portadown and Banbridge,” said Mrs Kelly.