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‘Needs of pupils must be protected in merger’ – Rogan

16 March, 2018 - by Emma Rogan

South Down Sinn Féin MLA Emma Rogan has insisted that the needs of all pupils must be protected or enhanced during the proposed merger of four post-primary schools.

The South Down MLA was commenting after the CCMS announced proposals that would see the merger of De La Salle High School, St Mary's High School, St Patrick's Grammar School, all in Downpatrick, and St Columba's College, in Portaferry.

She said: “Children attending St Columbanus College in Portaferry who have special educational needs currently have access to support through a dedicated Learning Support Centre.  It is absolutely crucial that the Education Authority and CCMS work together with parents to ensure that these children do not experience a reduction in provision.  Opportunities must be made to enhance rather than reduce provision.

“Moving forward there could be additional challenges regarding transport for children with special educational needs to any proposed new site and it is essential that the Education Authority and CCMS listen to and take account of the views of parents.

“As St Columbanus is located within a rural setting it is imperative that both CCMS and the EA ensure that any proposals are in line with statutory obligations under the rural needs act.

“I would also urge all parents and interested parties to fully acquaint themselves with the proposals regarding the merger and respond to the consultation process.”

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