Proposals by the North Eastern Education and Library Board to create a new post-primary school in the borough have caused great disappointment, according to North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds.
While governors at Monkstown Community School and Newtownabbey Community High have welcomed plans for the merger of the two schools and the creation of a new school in the area, it seems there is disagreement over the preferred location.
Although the NEELB has stressed that no final decisions have yet been made, it’s likely that the new school for pupils aged 11 - 19 years will be located at the Bridge Road site in Monkstown and could open as soon as September 2014.
Having attended a public consultation meeting at Newtownabbey Community High last Monday to discuss the Board’s proposals, Mr Dodds said that governors, staff and parents are disappointed by the plan to site the new school in Monkstown.
Speaking after the meeting, the DUP man said: “I have been working with the principal, the staff and the Board of Governors of the school for a very considerable time and share the great disappointment and frustration at the decision to site the new merged school away from the current Rathcoole site.”
He continued: “There are a number of very good reasons why the new school should be located at the NCHS site, not least the fact of the adjacent Whitehouse Primary School and the proposals for a new 3G pitch. There are excellent links with the local community and first rate transport and logistical connections.
“Very importantly, recent inspections have demonstrated tremendous progress in pupils’ results.
“I am supporting the parents and the school community in their wish to have the location of the merged school changed.”
Billy Snoddy, chair of the Board of Governors at Newtownabbey Community High, admitted that a lot of people in the area are unhappy with the NEELB’s proposal, but he said that the school’s governors would be putting together a formal response during the ongoing period of public consultation.
Mr Snoddy urged people to make their views known to the Department of Education before the consultation closes on December 14.