People across Holywood recently received news that the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) are contemplating closing Redburn Primary School from 31 August 2012. I am shocked that the Board are even considering closure after the Education Minister recently reaffirmed commitments to facilitate the new school building project in Holywood when resources allow. This scheme would involve new premises for Holywood Nursery, Holywood Primary, Priory Integrated College and Redburn Primary with Redburn and Holywood Primary Schools merging together on one new site.
Whilst I am totally opposed the proposed closure I am keen to ensure that the consultation isn’t merely a rubber stamping exercise. I have therefore contacted the Children’s Commissioner requesting that legal action is taken to halt the closure before the Education Minister completes his overarching review concerning the sustainability of all schools across Northern Ireland.
I strongly believe that it would be extremely unfair if decisions to close individual schools such as Redburn Primary in Holywood and Ballykeigle Primary School in Comber were pursued in isolation. It is simply not credible to base the proposal to close the school on the previous policy for Sustainable Schools since this will soon be out of date and has been randomly and rarely used since inception.
In response to my call for assistance to the Children’s Commissioner I have been informed by a senior official from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People that;
“We are looking at the legal processes pertaining to individual schools and their interactions with the Board regarding development proposals to assess whether we can take any action. We cannot lobby on behalf of individual schools but we can look at the legal processes around the potential closures. Can I ask that you direct parents of children effected to contact us directly”
I would therefore encourage all parents from Redburn Primary to contact the Commissioner via 028 9031 1616 and help stop this flawed plan to close Redburn Primary School which has been at the heart the local community since it was opened in 1960.