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MLAs 'disappointed' by closing of school

Education Minister, John O'Dowd, has approved a development proposal to close Redburn Primary School in Holywood, Co Down, and a number of local political representatives have slammed the decision as 'disappointing'.

Commenting on the decision, the education minister John O'Dowd said: "I have agreed to the closure of Redburn Primary School. In recent years, the school has suffered from declining enrolments and in the current school year has only 66 children enrolled. I am confident that the children's educational needs can now be best met at alternative schools within the area where there is sufficient surplus capacity.

"I would also like to pay tribute to all those connected with Redburn Primary School who over many years have shown their commitment and dedication to the school and its pupils."

North Down political representatives have said that the decision is illogical, as plans are in place to increase pupil numbers at the school and keep the school running.

Alex Easton MLA said: "It is deeply disappointing to hear the news that Redburn Primary School has been given the go ahead by the education minister for closure. I am deeply angry that this decision has been announced just as pupils go on their Easter holidays, it is highly regrettable that the staff and pupils holidays have now been wrecked over the irresponsible timing of this announcement.

"I believe in the parents, pupils and teachers of Redburn Primary School, who have had an excellent action plan that would have seen the school turned round with extra children enrolling into next year's p1. There was also new housing planned for Loughview Estate and a new army regiment coming to Palace Barracks in the near future. I am deeply disappointed and angry that the minister did not keep to his commitment that he would consider visiting the school before a final decision was made.

"I feel completely let down by this entire process, Redburn Primary School, could have been saved and should have been saved."

Peter Weir, MLA, said: "Now all that good work seems to be thrown down the drain. It seems that the Department of education did not give the school even some breathing space to rebuild numbers.

"However, the real blame should lie at the door of the SEELB Commissioners. Instead of taking the more senisble route of prioritising the new Holywood schools build which would have benefitted four schools in the area, they jumped the gun and swung the axe at Redburn.

"This is not just a sad day for the school and all associated but a sad day for the whole of Holywood.

Holywood Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir said: "I am extremely disappointed that the Minister has decided to close the school which will shut its doors at the end of the June 2012. Rather than prioritising delivery of the new Holywood Schools project he has taken a short sighted approach and followed in the footsteps of the SEELB unelected Commisioners who first came up with the closure idea.

"Redburn Primary School is a valuable part of the local community and will be missed. With the decision now made I hope Education authorities will explore opportunities for the school site to be used by the local community rather than being allowed to fall into disrepair," he added.