Protestant children will lose out if bus proposals enacted says Beattie

Any decision to bus children from Lurgan to the Portadown campus of Craigavon Senior High School will damage the future of Protestant children, an MLA has said.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 5:02 pm

Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie says such a decision would damage the whole controlled sector in Lurgan - leaving working class Protestant boys and girls as the greatest losers.

The Ulster Unionist MLA said: “The issue of the future around the Lurgan campus of Craigavon Senior High School has been an ongoing saga.

“I make no apologies for continually raising concerns that just closing the campus and bussing the children to Portadown is not the answer.

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UUP MLA Doug Beattie

“This will not help those educationally vulnerable children in Lurgan and the surrounding area, who are not selected to receive a Grammar education, achieve better educational outcomes.

“I am concerned that the Education Board have discussed this issue and have recently decided they will support the Education Authorities preferred option to just bus the kids out of the town.

“This goes against what the community want, ignores a realistic plan that has been proposed and damages the controlled sector post primary educational pathway in the town.

“Parents who live in Lurgan or surrounding town and villages who would normally send their children to a controlled sector primary school or to the Junior High School in Lurgan will now look to send them elsewhere, possibly Banbridge, as the end to end non-selective pathway collapses.

“This will damage the whole controlled sector in Lurgan and yet again the losers will be the majority who make up this sector in Lurgan - working class Protestant boys and girls - who do not get selected to go to the college.

“As an Upper Bann MLA I have promoted for a Lurgan solution for over four years and have supported expanding the Junior High School from an 11-16 school with academic selection still taking place at 14 as per the Dickson plan.

“Those selected would go to Lurgan College as normal. I have asked other political parties to stand with me on this issue, I have raised it in council, in the media, in group meetings and yet the column inches of others can be viewed in a couple of paragraphs. This is not good enough.

“It is time the DUP Minister for Education met with the community directly, heard their concerns, looked at the alternative plan and made the decision that we cannot fail these kids once more. We cannot just bus them out of the town and say job done move on. If we are not willing to fight for our children’s future then what is the point in being a politician.”

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