‘Threatened closure of St. Patrick’s Primary School is an attack on the rural community’ – Clarke

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Sunday, March 24th, 2013
Alliance Party Newcastle Councillor Patrick Clarke has lent his support to vow to save St. Patrick’s Primary School at Burrenreagh outside Castlewellan from closure. Councillor Clarke believes the threatened closure of the school would be an attack on the rural community it presently serves. The Newcastle Councillor has written to the principal Mr. James Hunt offering his support and also the CCMS and the Department of Education regarding the rural school, which is the only one in the Down Council area which has been earmarked for closure following the publication of a review of the district’s 49 primary schools. Speaking to Newry Times, Clarke stated, “I have written to the Principal of St. Patrick’s Primary School to lend my full support to the entire school staff, board of governors, parents and pupils and the parents support group regarding the maintaining and retention of St. Patrick’s Primary School. “I was indeed very disappointed to learn that under the Draft Area Plans for Primary Schools within the SEELB area for 2013 – 2018 that the CCMS is to consult on the potential closure of St. Patrick’s Primary School. “Parents had advised me that St. Patrick’s Primary School has been waiting on two new classrooms since approval from the Department of Education in 2011 and that a recent school inspection highlighted a strong sense of community which pervades the life and work of the school. He continued, “The inspection also referred to the principal and staff being dedicated and committed to the school. The concerned parents made it abundantly clear that they felt an announcement on the school’s future was imminent and that they are totally determined to try and prevent any such closure. “St. Patrick’s Primary School is a popular rural school due to the family atmosphere, excellent teaching of the curriculum, plus additional services being provided to children and an active and successful Parent’s Support Association. Clarke added, “There is a very long history of providing quality education at St. Patrick’s Primary School to the local parish and wider community and the school remains a popular choice for parents because of the family atmosphere. “I have no doubt that there is very strong support within the local parish and community to keep St. Patrick’s Primary School at the heart of the local community and I will be lobbying the CCMS and the Department of Education on this matter and will be seeking a meeting with the CCMS as quickly as possible.”
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