By Patricia Devlin
THE Principal of a Cookstown Post-Primary school has said the educational needs of 11 to 18 year-olds living within the district must be addressed now.
Isabel Russell, Principal of Holy Trinity College, made the comments during a speech delivered to a wide audience of parents, pupils, teachers and stakeholders in which she emphasised the need for a new 1300 pupil, all-ability, Holy Trinity College.
She said: “Our children have a right to be educated in modern facilities; they have an entitlement to be treated as equals; they have a right to a high quality educational experience; we, as educators, must continue to do the groundwork so that our young people can prove that they are the best that they can be”.
Speaking at the school’s 2012 Prize-Giving ceremony on Friday, September 21, the Principal described education as being in a “world of change, challenge and uncertainty” but added, “the needs of our young people must be addressed now.”
Earlier this year a Cookstown educational group, which is lobbying for the Holy Trinity new build, slammed proposals made by the Northern Ireland Catholic Commission for Education (NICCE).
The Cookstown Forum for Education said the NICCE Post Primary Review proposals were very damaging for Catholic pupils, families, and communities in the wider Cookstown area, both now and in the future.
One recommendation in the NICCE report, released in February of this year, proposed that a co-educational school for 11 to 19 year-olds remains in the Cookstown area but, that more analysis should be carried out regarding any further expansion of Holy Trinity College.
The recommendations received widespread criticism and a cross-party delegation met with a top Catholic education chief over fears for the new-build project.
Gerry Lundy, who is the Post Primary Review Director, said careful planning was needed with the changes in the growth of Holy Trinity College but pledged his support for the priority build.
In a statement to the MAIL at the time, Mr Lundy said: “The Mid-Ulster area is a case in point as any agreed changes to one of the component schools will have an impact on another school. For example the Trustees fully support the vision for Holy Trinity College to become large enough to meet the needs of all young people for whom it is their nearest school. They also support the current plans for new buildings to deliver that vision.”
Concluding her comments on the support for the new build project, Mrs Russell said that the Cookstown Forum for Education continues to lobby for the new 1300 pupil, “all-ability, 11 – 18, co-educational Holy Trinity College”.
“We ask you to support us in our campaign,” she said.