Carnalbanagh Primary School closure decision ‘ridiculous’ says campaigner

The principal of Carnalbanagh Primary School has spoken of her “disappointment” following the decision to close the rural East Antrim school that has been part of the community for almost two centuries.

Alison Killough was commenting on the decision by the Department of Education to close the school next August.

In a recent message to parents, she said: “Carnalbanagh Primary School has been a well-established educational institution catering for generations of families and children for almost 200 years.

“Despite its historical durability, even a school such as this, has had to succumb to the bureaucracy of modern-day austerity.

Education Minister Peter Weir with principal Alison Killough during his visit to Carnalbanagh Primary School at the end of September.

“This week has therefore been a very sad one for Carnalbanagh with the news of the closure of our school in Summer 2021.”

In the meantime, she said that the school will “just keep going as normal and enjoy the next seven months making memories”.

The decision came just weeks after Education Minister Peter Weir toured the Glenview Road school in September.

A statement issued by the school at the time said: “It was an excellent opportunity to lay our case before Mr Weir and show him how important our school is and the role that our school plays in the community.  He was very interested to meet the children and hear what we had to say.”

Political representatives, governors and PTA members were in attendance too as the Education Minister learned more about life at Carnalbanagh Primary.

Commenting on the decision, Mid and East Antrim Councillor Beth Adger MBE, who has long campaigned for the retention of Carnalbanagh Primary, said: “If you take the school out of the community, you might as well kill the community. It is ridiculous.”

The primary school, which was established in 1827, was recommended for closure in August 2021 by the Education Authority.

The Education Authority’s rationale for the proposed closure stated: “The school has always been a small school with enrolment not exceeding 40 pupils in the last five years, the current enrolment of 26 pupils will place increased pressure on the financial resources of the school and on teaching staff.”

In his comments, the minister said: “In taking this decision I have noted the managing authority’s assessment of unfilled places at other schools (including places in the controlled sector) and commitment to examine any requirements for provision of additional accommodation at neighbouring schools to facilitate the relocation of pupils.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: National numeracy champ Carnalbanagh says school closure proposal doesn’t add up


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