Save Straid Primary School: Mum leads the way by gathering future pupils list

A campaign to save a rural south Antrim school under threat of closure is gathering momentum with families signing up to enrol their children in the coming years.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 5:05 pm

Leigh Bates, a mother of two pupils, is collecting the names of children whose parents wish to the send them to Straid Primary School, near Ballyclare.

She is gathering the details to present to the Education Authority (EA) after proposals were put forward regarding the possible closure of the Irish Hill Road premises.

Last month, the education body said it was taking forward a proposal for the “discontinuance of Straid Primary with effect from September 1, 2023” and launched a consultation process with governors, teaching staff and parents.

Parents of pupils and future students of Straid Primary have called for the school to reman open.
Parents of pupils and future students of Straid Primary have called for the school to reman open.

Residents, however, have set up a campaign of opposition to any planned closure. Click here to read: Campaign launched to save Straid village school

Speaking to the Newtownabbey Times, Mrs Bates said: “So far we have 25 families who hope to enrol their children at Straid Primary School in the next five years. Out of these families some have two or more children they wish to enrol, so we currently have 38 children’s names on our list and this is still growing.

Parents are concerned that this proposal would disrupt their children’s primary school years and break their friendship groups. The children are so happy at Straid Primary and it would be devastating for so many families to lose it.

“Straid Primary have nice class sizes and great teacher-pupil ratios. Some families are concerned how their children would cope in a class with 30 pupils in it.

“Families would be forced to travel further to another primary school and grandparents and caregivers who often collect children after school would be forced to travel further also. Community connections will be broken down. The school brings life to the village and encourages young families to move here.

“My eldest child is in P7 and my youngest is in P4. If the Education Authority’s proposal goes ahead my youngest child would have to change schools to complete her last year of primary education. All of the parents at the school are very upset at the thought of moving their children from Straid PS as it is such a wonderful rural school at the heart of Straid community.”

She added: “We will show this list to the EA so they realise how many families and children this proposal will have a detrimental impact on. Taking away this village’s local school when it has had one for over 190 years would mean that most of these children, and children who will use Straid Primary in the future, would have to travel a lot further for their primary education.

“On a more positive note, the principal Mrs Dawn Boyd, will also use this list to notify the families of Straid Primary School open days and induction days.

“We would ask everyone to support us in ‘Saving our School!’ If there is anyone who is looking for a great school for their child to grow, learn and develop at in a caring environment I can personally recommend Straid Primary School.

“My husband and I feel privileged that our children have been given such a great start in life that Straid Primary offers children. Contact me by email at [email protected] if you want to enrol your child in the next five years at Straid Primary, and I will add your child’s name to our growing list.”

Meanwhile, South Antrim DUP MP Paul Girvan pledged his support to a campaign to keep the school open during a community rally on May 25.

For more on this, read here

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