Consultation underway into Ballykeigle PS

Consultation underway into Ballykeigle PS

2 November 2011

AN official consultation process has begun into the future of Ballykeigle Primary School outside Comber.

Parents and governors have been given four weeks to present their views about the proposed closure of the rural school later this year.

The South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) s considering closing the primary due to concerns over its viability.

Ballykeigle Primary School, which has served the local community for 174 years, currently has around 43 children on its register.

But supporters of the school are determined to fight the proposed closure and following the launch of the consultation process last week, they have formed a committee to save their school.

They are outraged by the uncertainty the closure proposal places on the primary, which they believe should be retained as an asset to the local community.

Mr. Jason Fisher, who has been elected chairman of the new parents' lobbying committee, said they had every reason to believe the school could be saved.

He said commissioners had indicated they would be interested in seeing proof that enrolments will grow in the coming years and said the committee had already collected dozens of names of children who will be sent to the school if there is a commitment from the SEELB about its future.

"Ballykeigle offers an excellent education and local parents realise that," said Mr. Fisher.

"Our enrolment will undoubtedly rise if parents are reassured the school will remain open. There are many parents who would love to send their children to this school, but who may not have done in the past because of rumours it may close.

"What we are now doing is urging those parents to contact us and express an interest in their children attending the school. This will help save Ballykeigle Primary School.

"We are very encouraged by the number of names we have already gathered. People from other schools are saying to us that if the school is staying open they will join it."

Strangford Assemblyman Mr. David McNarry, who last week met Ballykeigle parents, agreed the proposed closure must be fought.

"I feel ashamed of political democracy when parents, pupils and teachers are summarily dismissed in a game of numbers which cares nothing for people and their communities," he said.

"The closure must be fought against to reinstate integrity in the system."