08 January 2006

Pupils staying put, say parents

Sunday Life

By Sinead McCavana
08 January 2006

CATHOLIC parents will remove their children from a thriving integrated primary school if it is relocated to a mostly Protestant village, it has been revealed.

The North Eastern Education and Library Board has proposed that Carnlough Integrated Primary School move to a more modern building in neighbouring Glenarm.

But according to school governor Rosemary Haveron, both parents and teachers are "100pc opposed to the move".

"The school has been very successful over the past five years - the integrated ethos has been grasped within the village more than we could ever have anticipated," she said.

"We've had a 57pc growth within the school since it became integrated and have hit all the targets set down to us.

"None of the parents wish to go to Glenarm: they believe that integration will only really work in Carnlough.

"Catholic parents have said they will not send their children to Glenarm when there is a perfectly good maintained school in Carnlough.

"There's quite a number of Protestant parents who have indicated their children will not go to Glenarm either. If the board forces this move, it will ruin integration in the area."

NEELB member Joe Reid has spoken out against the proposal.

"I can see no good reason for moving the school from Carnlough to Glenarm," said the former school principal.

"I feel it goes against the good community relations that have been developed within Carnlough - it can only have a negative effect."

The Co Antrim school has formed an action committee which will give a presentation to the Board at its next meeting later this month.

Mrs Haveron, who has three children at the integrated primary, says the school has been very positive for community relations.

"I'm a Protestant parent on the board and we are very much in a minority within the village, yet we function very well within the school because politics are very much left at the gate," she said.

"We have total respect for each others' beliefs."

A NEELB spokeswoman said: "The proposal will be considered by the board at its meeting on January 31 and the way forward will be taken from there."

Glenarm Primary School is due to close in August due to dwindling numbers. The two schools have a combined roll of around 60 pupils.

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