‘More time needed for area plan consultations’ – Rogers
SDLP Education Spokesperson Seán Rogers has expressed concern at the time-frame set up for consultation on post-primary area plans which could result in the mergers or closures of a number of secondary-level schools and has requested that the Education Minister announce an extension.
The South Down MLA, himself a former grammar school principal, was responding to the plans, published by the Education and Library Boards in the North this week.
Speaking to Newry Times, he said: “I am deeply concerned that this consultation only runs between now and October, taking in a long period when schools are closed for the summer, thus reducing the ability of principals to act strategically and in consultation with colleagues when preparing responses.”
Rogers continued, “Also I know all too well that September is the busiest time of year for principals as they get their school bedded down in the new academic session – then they are in to October and by then it is too late to respond. I have submitted a written question to the Minister asking for an extension as the current timeframe is, to me, unacceptable.”
“These consultations could lead to a major change in the provision of post-primary education across the north so there must be time for a meaningful consultation which will allow for the teasing out of considered and workable ideas on shared and cross-border education, and let the ELBs, along with CCMS in the case of Catholic Maintained Schools, consult properly on area-based solutions.”
He added, “I await the Minister’s prompt response with interest.”
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