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More prudent to make savings in 'shared' sector

As a parent, I agree with your recent articles by Rebecca Black and Lindsay Fergus on the money being squandered on "shared education" projects at a time of severe cutbacks to the education budget which have already imposed a heavy burden on schools.

One wonders how important it is for a small percentage of pupils to share a swimming pool, football pitch, or occasional class or teacher, when class sizes are growing and extra-curricular provision is reduced as a result of the serious staff and resourcing cuts that have already occurred.

It is interesting that the first of many shared campuses at Omagh is projected to cost £125m. If we add this to the £44m that may be squandered on shared education projects, we reach a figure close to the amount due to be cut from the education budget.

I suspect if parents were asked to sacrifice some superficial "hands across the divide projects" to save even some of the 2,500 staff that may be cut from our schools, our politicians would receive their overwhelming support. In any case, if there were a genuine interest in children being educated together, surely they would be promoting the small "i" integrated sector which already exists in schools such as Dominican College, Portstewart.

Why, too, is the minister determined to close Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar School, an oversubscribed non-denominational grammar school whose closure was opposed by a 7,000 signature strong petition from across the community? Might it be that the minister's ideological agenda to rid Northern Ireland of selective grammar schools is stronger than his commitment to shared education?



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