Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Hazelwood students hope for good report from new talks

Students at Hazelwood have asked for the help of the Education Minister

THE stand-off between a north Belfast school and the Belfast Education and Library Board (BELB) could be resolved this week following an intervention from the Department of Education (DENI).

Talks between the groups are said to be making "good progress" and it is hoped that a meeting planned for this Friday, 20 could be used to finalise plans to reopen the facility.

On Monday a public petition signed by over one thousand pupils was presented to the Assembly asking for the help of Education Minister John O'Dowd in resolving the situation.

Two hundred sixth form pupils at Hazelwood Integrated College have been locked out of classrooms since the beginning of term when gates to the new mobile accommodation were locked by the Board because the new facilities did not have proper approval.

A High Court case taken by a mother of one of the pupils has been adjourned for two weeks to allow the court to gather further evidence but it is now hoped that the situation could be resolved before any action is taken.

Alliance Education spokesperson Trevor Lunn MLA has called on all groups involved to act quickly and end the uncertainty for teachers, pupils and parents at the school.

"I have written to the Belfast Education and Library Board to ask for clarification on what plans are in place to resolve this issue," he said.

"It is absolutely disgraceful that this situation has been allowed to drag on for so long.

"On Monday a public petition registering this concern was presented to the Assembly. I fully support this petition and hope the Education Minister will now make resolving this issue an urgent priority."

Currently the school has had to set up a makeshift sixth form in the school's Assembly Hall and the vice principal has previously described himself as at "breaking point" trying to accommodate all the students in the space available.

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