‘Draft plan for school shake-up will worry rural schools’ – McGrath

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Friday, October 21st, 2016
SDLP Education Spokesperson and South Down MLA Colin McGrath has responded to the draft area plan for 2017 to 2020 announced by the Education Minister. teacherThe plan aims at changing the nature and number of schools across the North and are out for public consultation until December. Speaking to Newry Times, McGrath said, “I welcome moves by the Department and Education Authority to deliver the best possible education for our children. Nobody will underestimate the scale of the task that lies ahead. “However, this announcement has already caused great anxiety in many schools across the North and particularly in rural schools. It is from bitter experience that rural communities have come to expect that it is their primary schools that will be unfairly targeted in this shake up and that this course of action will only serve to further isolate rural communities. “With deficiencies already evident in the provision of rural transport, the Minister must consider carefully how he intends to proceed with this plan if he intends on providing equitable education for people not living in urban areas,” he insisted.
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october-2016“I am also concerned about the assertion that sixth forms must contain at least 100 pupils to remain viable. Again this will cause concern for schools that do not meet this threshold and with the entitlement framework, schools in rural communities will struggle to meet this target. McGrath added, “I encourage as many people to engage with this consultation as possible. It is only with popular engagement from a wide range of communities that the challenges facing our education system will be met in an equitable and effective way.”
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