‘Beware of grammar school proposals’

The community should be fighting proposed changes to the future of controlled grammar schools, according to one Leader reader.

A concerned Banbridge resident contacted us regarding the future of the Dickson Plan.

It is a two tier system in which the majority of pupils in the Craigavon Borough Council Area and parts of Armagh City and District Council Area attend junior high schools for three years before transferring to senior high schools to complete their compulsory education in Key Stage 4.

Education Minister John O’Dowd wants to see the plan scrapped and amalgamate the junior high dchools and the senior education schools in the Craigavon area.

“I’m wondering how many parents from Banbridge and surrounding districts whose children are hoping to transfer to Banbridge Academy in future, fully appreciate that if the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) and Minister O’Dowd get their way in destroying the esteemed plan, their children will be competing with hordes of young people from outside this area to get a place?” the letter read.

“What right do Mr O’Dowd and the SELB have in denying anyone the right to a grammar school education?

“Parents in Lurgan and Portadown are already thinking to the future and have a right to expect the best for their children and if Lurgan and Portadown Colleges are destroyed (as is the proposal), they will look to Banbridge Academy as a neighbouring school to send their children to.

“It’s time we as a community got behind the principals of Lurgan and Portadown Colleges and their respective local communities in saying no to O’Dowd and the SELB.

“We need to join with the communities in Lurgan and Portadown to send a clear message that this is not what we want and it’s time to listen to what the community wants.”

A spokesman for the SELB said: “The Board has been consistently clear in its support for the Dickson system of education and has supported proposals it believes will ensure its viability going forward.”

Banbridge Academy were also contacted for comment but at the time of going to press the Leader had not received a response. Email your views on this story to news@banbridgeleader.co.uk.