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Belfast parents 'given one week' to decide on new school for their children

By Rebecca Black

Published 26/05/2015

Education Minister John O'Dowd has allowed a temporary increased enrolment at Elmgrove from 592 to 724 to accommodate 152 children from Avoniel, but it will decrease eventually to 609
Education Minister John O'Dowd has allowed a temporary increased enrolment at Elmgrove from 592 to 724 to accommodate 152 children from Avoniel, but it will decrease eventually to 609

Angry parents are set to demonstrate outside an east Belfast primary school tomorrow after being given just a week to choose another school for their children.

One parent described the situation as a "nightmare".

Avoniel Primary School is almost 80 years old but won't see the landmark birthday next year. It will close for good this summer.

The decision was announced only two weeks ago, close to the end of the school year.

Parents will hold a protest outside the school tomorrow calling for either a reversal of the decision, or an amalgamation of Avoniel with nearby Elmgrove PS.

They met with the education authority last Friday, and claim they were told they have a week to decide which school to send their children to in September.

Michael Woods, who has three children at Avoniel, said the parents became upset when the caretaker was told he was being made redundant. There are 35 staff in total. It is not yet known whether any will transfer to Elmgrove.

Most children from Avoniel are expected to transfer to Elmgrove, although Mr Woods said there was more concern over how many that school is allowed to have.

"One Friday they gave us a week to decide whether or not we want our children to go to Elmgrove. A week is not enough time. We haven't even met any of the teachers, been up to the school or met the principal," he said.

Education Minister John O'Dowd has allowed a temporary increased enrolment at Elmgrove from 592 to 724 to accommodate 152 children from Avoniel, but it will decrease eventually to 609.

He called the move the "first phase" in the authority's plan to "reshape controlled primary provision in east Belfast".

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