Just 15 people respond to schools’ shake-up plans

JUST 15 people responded to the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s (NEELB) consultation on major plans to restructure education provision in Newtownabbey.

In 2011, the Education Minister, John O’Dowd, commissioned the Education and Library Boards to develop strategic area plans for restructuring education provision across the province.

Last year the NEELB released three options for consideration in the Newtownabbey area and sent them out for consultation with the public.

The main proposal in the plans was the merger of Monkstown Community School with Newtownabbey Community High School. The new school formed from the merger would also be closely aligned with Rosstulla Special School.

Despite an extensive period of consultation, just 15 people responded to the Newtownabbey plan according to the report published this week by the board. Four surveys were completed online and another 11 submitted by post.

Of those responses, all understood the need for change, however, only half agreed that the strategic area plan devised by the NEELB showed a way forward.

Nearly all of those that responded, according to the board, favoured ‘option three’ which will see Monkstown Community School and Newtownabbey Community High combined into one school and aligned closely with Rosstulla Special School.

Other schools in the borough either stayed the same, or were recommended for an increase in size under the area plans.

An NEELB spokeswoman said: “The board values the level of responses made in relation to the draft area plans, which along with the Terms of Reference for Area Based Planning, helped shape the proposals.

“The extensive work carried out by the board and schools has been acknowledged by the minister.

“An action plan will now be prepared to take forward to progress consultation on those proposals which involve potential changes to current school provision.”

She added: “The board is committed to providing quality education for all our young people and we will continue to work closely with governors, principals, teachers, parents and pupils to develop education provision for the current and future generations of young people in our area.”

All information relating to the Post Primary Area Plans is available on the board’s website at www.neelb.org.uk.