Parents demand school closure plans be axed

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The CCMS has been accused of jeopardising the education of children in the Clogher Valley after parents at a local primary school called on the Minister of Education to reject plans for its closure.

Instead, parents of children at St Brigid’s, Augher, want an earlier proposal by the CCMS to merged the three Catholic primary schools in the area and create a brand new purpose built school.

Parishioners organised a public meeting on Monday night to galvanise support and encourage local parents to make their views known to the education minister.

St Brigid’s, which opened in 1967 and currently has 16 pupils, is due to close in August of this year.

Parents using the school fear their children will face disruption to their education twice, the first when they move to either St McCartan’s or St Patrick’s Primary Schools, and the second when these schools merge on a split site at a later date.

A spokesperson for the parents accused the CCMS and the education board of mothballing the plans for a new school for the area, and of planning the two-school merger under ‘a cloak of secrecy’.

“In 2006, a survey was conducted, which found that 82% of parishioners supported an amalgamation of the three schools into a new build single primary school for the parish”, he said.

“In the intervening years there was little to no progress. CCMS say there was no money for a new build but did not invest in the schools as there was a new build school planned.”

He added that parents were shocked when the closure of St Brigid’s was announced without any mention of a new school building. “We fear that this is a slippery slope to having no school in the parish”, he said.

SDLP Councillor Sharon McAleer has warned there should be better long-term planning for education. “With the improvements in infrastructure, it is expected that there will be more housing developments around Augher and a boost in pupil numbers.”