FROM Joe Corrigan, Lismore Comprehensive principal
As principal of Lismore Comprehensive School in Craigavon, I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to the students, staff, parents and governors of St Mary’s, St Paul’s and St Michael’s Schools in Lurgan, and Portadown Integrated Primary School, on their new build announcements last week.
A new school building for Portadown Integrated is welcome and deserved, and those involved in future planning for the three Lurgan schools have worked very hard to ensure that all of their young people irrespective of ability, talent or aspiration, are properly catered for into the future.
I sincerely hope that similar accommodations can be made for all of the young people in the controlled schools in Lurgan and Portadown as well, as every one of their students also deserves the best of facilities and resources in the years ahead. Given that every child is not equal, but that all are of equal value, I would have thought that children in the non-grammar, as well as the grammar, sector of the controlled schools’ estate would also have been central to any new build planning.
I feel also that I have to register the profound disappointment of the Lismore school community – pupils, parents, staff and governors alike – that our own long-awaited new build did not materialise in last week’s announcements. Our school was built in 1972 for a population of approximately 300 students. It continues to grow and flourish and our current intake of 1,175 pupils is our highest ever. A huge amount of work has been done over the last 12 years to prepare for the new school building that our growth, and students, deserve.
I accept that, in these recessionary times, it is difficult for the Minister of Education and the N.I. Assembly to provide all of the new school builds that are needed across all the sectors in Northern Ireland at the same time, and that John O’Dowd has been making a fair and genuine attempt to meet the needs of schools across these sectors.
Our application for a new school build remains as urgent and as justified as ever.
We are viable, compliant, and sustainable in all the key descriptors for schools of the future, and are delivering the Entitlement Framework curriculum to almost 1,200 students of all abilities, all of whom are equally important. Our argument for a new school build will continue. The young people of Craigavon deserve no less.