‘Future of education’ is at stake - headmaster

Magherafelt High School. INMM4112-129ar.
Magherafelt High School. INMM4112-129ar.

THE future of the Magherafelt High School is under threat by a proposal to end sixth form provision, the headmaster has claimed.

Mr Brian McCluskey was speaking at a special meeting of parents called to discuss Education Minister John O’Dowd’s plan for post primary school education in the town.

The school’s board of governors is urging parents, local representatives and members of the public to object to the proposal by requesting a ‘consultation pack’ and returning it to the North Eastern Education and Library Board by October 26.

Mr McCluskey said the future of education in the area was at stake.

“We urgently need the Minister of Education to know that retaining the status quo with enhanced collabration is the right course of action for this area,” he said.

He told those attending that each post primary school in Magherafelt was strong and that they were all working closely together for the good of all children in the area.

“The Magherafelt Learning Partnership is regarded as the leading Partnership in Northern Ireland providing a breadth of choice as sixth form which meets the statutory requirements,” he continued

“All that work forged over the a number of years would be lost should one proposal to create a bilateral shared 11-19 school comprising Rainey Endowed and Sperrin College, with Magherafelt High School to become an 11-16 school – be approved by the Minister.”

Mr McCluskey highlighted the many strengths of the school – including a highly favourable inspection report this year, a growing, thriving sixth form which will be in excess of 90 pupils by next September, stable enrolment, a recently opened £11 million state of the art building, and financial stability – all of which point to the fact that Magherafelt High School, indeed all the Magherafelt schools, are sustainable on their own.

He felt that change was needed in some areas of Northern Ireland but that the Minister should look at the future pupil projections and leave Magherafelt to build on our success – working together while maintaining our individual ethos.

The meeting was called in response to the NEELB post primary area plan and Mr McMcCluskey strongly urged all present to complete the consultation response document to air their views on the issue.

He declared: “If we are complacent the threat, not only to our sixth form provision, but to our school as a whole, could become a reality and this is unthinkable.”

DUP Chair of the local District Council, Councillor Paul McLean, said people needed to take action as a matter of urgency by going on line and downloading a copy of the consultation pack.

He said he was not convinced that the consultation process relating to sixth form provision in this area was being treated the same as it was treated in other education and library board areas.

“I concur with the comments made by Mr McCluskey and would urge everyone with a vested interest in the welfare and future of the High School to response to the prosposal. Take action now before it is too late,” he said.