Local school in hunger strike row

Joanne Dobson.
Joanne Dobson.

A Banbridge secondary school is at the centre of a row over a teaching guide on the Hunger Strikes, it has emerged.

A concerned parent contacted the Leader and told us his child, attending Newbridge Integrated, was using the study guide.

Another Banbridge parent approached UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson on the matter, after their child was asked to write an essay on Bobby Sands.

Mrs Dobson is now calling on the Board to ‘kick republican ideology’ out of our classrooms.

The MLA is calling for the immediate withdrawal of the teaching guide published by the Northern Ireland Curriculum to accompany the book ‘Bog Child’. The notes are available to all Key Stage 3 pupils, aged between 11 and 14.

The guide encourages children to study the republican Hunger Strikes of 1981, challenging children to put themselves in the shoes of Bobby Sands, to treat the writings of Sinn Fein’s former press chief Danny Morrison as “factual writing”, and to accept children felt shame that their fathers worked as prison warders.

Mrs Dobson said: “The fact that this book is being taught to our pupils is an utter disgrace.

“The book itself may well be award-winning, but this is to miss the point, which is how teachers are directed to encourage pupils to study the Hunger Strikes in a sympathetic, subjective manner.

“If this book can make its way on to the curriculum under the present education system, we can be in little doubt that a single education authority controlled by Sinn Fein would yield more of the same.

“If Sinn Fein’s idea of a ‘shared future’ for Northern Ireland is to teach our young children about the reprehensible acts of murderers whilst at the same time attempting to re-write history, then they are callously ignoring the very principle of sharing.”

Banbridge Councillor Glenn Barr said: “These pupils... have no first-hand experience of the Troubles. How we teach that history will shape, or in this case, warp, their minds forever.”

The Leader attempted to contact the school for comment on Monday but no one was available for comment.

Read the Department of Education response on page 3.