School closure would be great error by board
The closure of any school can be devastating, not just for the children, parents and staff involved but it can also tear the heart out of a whole community.
In practice, such situations usually arise because of falling enrolments with schools facing overwhelming curricular and financial pressure, and sadly our fractured education system has rarely enabled cross-community partnerships to develop to save schools in many local areas.
However, we currently have a situation in Enniskillen where the Collegiate Grammar School, the most oversubscribed post-primary in Fermanagh, is earmarked for closure in September 2015 so that a co-educational voluntary grammar school can be created.
This is a school that was in the top ten schools in Northern Ireland this year in the Belfast Telegraph tables on the basis of its GCSE results.
Its closure is vehemently opposed by the board of governors, staff, parents and pupils. The concern in the wider community is palpable that something intrinsically valuable is at risk of being lost for ever.
The Western Education and Library Board has ignored all the voices of opposition to the amalgamation and development proposals have now been published which allow only a few more weeks before the Minister of Education makes his decision.
The point surely is clear – if a popular, oversubscribed school with a fine academic record which has the overwhelming support of all its stakeholders and its wider community can be closed, what does that say about the future of education in Northern Ireland?