Portadown College attempts to end impasse over exams

Simon Harper
Simon Harper

The boards of governors at Portadown and Lurgan colleges have taken the initiative in a bid to resolve the impasse over the timing of transfer exams.

Simon Harper of Portadown College and his counterpart Trevor Robinson, have written to the boards of governors of the four junior high schools in the Portadown and Lurgan area.

They have suggested a meeting involving all seven schools in the Dickson Plan and have proposed two possible dates for it to take place, on either Wednesday, June 3 or Monday, June 8.

The move comes as the schools remain at loggerheads over the timing of transfer tests.

Lurgan and Portadown colleges insist that the move by the junior high schools to release examination information later than normal had impacted on their preparations for the following academic year.

The letter from the headmasters said, “We accept that the decision to move the release of academic information to a later date was made for reasons which the Boards of Governors of the various junior high schools felt to be in the best interests of their Year 10 pupils and we would not presume to comment on this. However, this does present extremely serious difficulties for the senior high schools.

“This year, at the request of the SELB, Portadown College and Lurgan College moved the date for sending out placement letters to prospective Year 11 pupils to May 15 2015. However, this has impacted adversely on the schools’ induction programmes which encompass pastoral, special educational needs, careers guidance and subject choice.

“We can only imagine that the operational challenges faced by Craigavon Senior High School are even greater as it will have its definitive list of pupils who have accepted places even later than the two colleges.”

The colleges noted that since February, they had made “numerous requests” to the SELB and Educational Authority to arrange a meeting of the “chairs and principals of all seven ‘Dickson Plan’ schools”.

However, the colleges said these requests had “not met with any success”.

In a statement, the two sets of governors explained the need for a meeting.

“The governors of Lurgan College and Portadown College have written to all of the Dickson Plan schools, inviting representatives from each school to attend a meeting to discuss future transfer arrangements.

“The governors of both colleges believe that such a meeting would ensure that the best interests of all our young people would continue to be served.”

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