Council lends unanimous support against schools closures in Lisburn

LISBURN City Council has backed the fight against the closure of two local schools.

The emotive issue won cross-party support at Tuesday’s monthly meeting at which presentations were made by head teachers and concerned parents against the axing of Knockmore Primary School and Dunmurry High School in August 2012.

The Council heard presentations from Acting Principal, Mrs Pamela Jones and parent representative and teacher, Mrs Fiona Darragh from Knockmore Primary School and from Mr David Mack, Parent Governor of Dunmurry High School.

The many issues raised included concerns voiced over the Seymour Hill area as one of economic need; the vulnerable children who will be affected and the loss of the long-term skills base in the Knockmore Primary School, which currently integrates its mainstream and special needs units.

Mrs Darragh’s young son Harry attends the special needs unit in Knockmore and she herself is a special needs teacher at another school. Speaking at the meeting Mrs Darragh gave a heart felt plea to fight to keep the school which speech and language and autism units are highly regarded, open.

She said: “I am disgusted by this news. We were insulted that separate meetings were held to discuss the future of the school. The segregation tactics are appalling.

“This is one school, one building, it has one board of governors and one inspection report and this is discrimination at the highest level.”

The schools are under threat of closure due to South Eastern Education and Library Board decisions.

A full debate ensued in the Council Chamber with wide cross-party support for the presentations. A notice of motion brought to the Council by Alderman Jonathan Craig, who called on the Minister for Education and the South Eastern Education and Library Board to reconsider the schools’ closure, was agreed unanimously by elected members.

The Mayor, Councillor Brian Heading, commented: “There is unanimous cross-party support for Knockmore and Dunmurry schools. On behalf of Lisburn City Council I thank the speakers from the schools for the insight they provided on this highly emotive issue. The loss of the schools would have a devastating impact on current and future pupils and on the families who need and depend on the specialist expertise provided to vulnerable children in the City.”

Written representations on the closures should be made to the South Eastern Education and Library Board by 16th November 2011. Lisburn City Council will be making its response in due course.