Schools to work with NEELB on area education plans

PRIMARY schools in the Newtownabbey area have said they will be working with the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) on plans to transform education provision.

Last week the NEELB announced its area plan for the borough in terms of providing primary school education.

Of the 27 primary schools in the area, the board has identified nine schools, those being Abbots Cross, Rathcoole, Doagh, Ballyhenry, Mallusk, Mossgrove, Straid, Tildarg and Tir na nOg which could be amalgamated with others or an action plan developed in order to provide sustainable education across the borough.

Since the proposals were announced the Times has contacted each of those schools.

Rathcoole Primary School principal Quinton Crean said: “A response to the NEELB consultation will be submitted which will take into consideration the views of the Governors, staff and parents.

“We are very proud of the ongoing high quality education provided in Rathcoole Primary School.

“The nursery continues to be oversubscribed and the P1 intake for September is 22 pupils which is the highest for some years.

“A further intake of this size in the following year will place the school’s enrolment above the department threshold. The new Nurture Room currently funded by DSD has recently been granted an additional year of funding by the Department of Education.”

Tildarg Primary principal Linda Mitchell said: “Our school is financially sound and our key stage one and two results have been very good.

“The only criteria which the NEELB has said we do not meet is that we do not have 105 pupils and that is because we are only allowed to enrol 80 pupils because of our physical capacity.

“I and the board of governors will be requesting that the department increases capacity and accommodation to meet that 105 pupil threshold.”

Florence Mairs, principal of Straid Primary said: “The subject of education is an emotive one which impacts on the whole community and as usual the public has been exposed to part truths, untruths and sensationalism in some parts of the media and press.

“May I reassure people that Straid is not in danger of closure.

“The Education Minister has emphasised that this consultation is not purely about finance and schools which can deliver a high quality of education and provide wider opportunities for children will be given recognition for these attributes and our school has not been identified as being in financial distress.”

She added: “We will be exploring a solution to make the best use of all the resources available to all local schools and to consolidate and build on the strengths and racecourses available to us.”

The Times contacted each of the schools whose future was questioned by the consultation document. Apart from Mallusk Primary School which did not want to comment, all others did not respond at time of going to press.

The NEELB has stressed that the plan is solely a consultation document at this stage and no decision has been taken as yet. For full details of the plans got to