School plan is ‘unacceptable’

Carla Lockhart MLA.
Carla Lockhart MLA.

The proposal to bus Lurgan schoolchildren to the Portadown Campus of Craigavon Senior High School has been described as ‘unacceptable’.

Local DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said she will be meeting the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education and leaving him in no doubt as to the feeling among the local community.

She said the response to the EA consultation was resoundingly against the move: “This is a very emotive issue among pupils, parents and educationalists in Lurgan. Each have made their feelings known to me... and there is a resounding desire to retain Key Stage 4 Education within Lurgan.

“Whilst I understand that he (the Permanent Secretary) will not be able to comment personally given he is likely to be the decision maker in the absence of an Executive it will be an opportunity to put a robust argument in favour of a Lurgan solution.

“The loss of this school will affect pupils, parents, businesses, sporting organisations and will in the long term damage the Lurgan economy. It is very disappointing the Education Authority made this decision which goes against the will of the community. Financial implications would appear to have been a driving force.”

Pointing to the issues for children she said: “This will add over an hour onto their school day at a time when some are studying for important exams. This is their future and we should be giving them the best possible chance to be successful and supporting them.”

She added: “A number of Lurgan solutions remain viable and need looked at in greater detail. I have and will continue to support those who are endeavouring to find a solution and would call on the Department to implement a task and finish group from within Lurgan to look and explore this matter in greater detail by looking at all options.

“The Department and EA cannot hide behind a Ministerial statement which was not related to this process. It is time to halt the flawed process and work towards a solution that meets the needs of the pupils within their home town.”