Board Area Plan is positive news for Carrick primary

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A public consultation played a key role in the decision to shelve merger plans at a Carrick school, a local head-teacher has said.

Central Primary School principal Glenn Campbell made the comments following the publication of the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s Area Plan for 2014-2018.

Last year, a report from the education authority identified the school as having non-sustainable enrolment levels despite being ‘financially sound’.

The Boards’s Draft Area Plan also set out several proposals for the future of the borough’s 13 primaries.

While no change was proposed for the majority of schools in the report, a declining enrolment trend was noted at Central, whose numbers have decreased from 150 in 2008/9 to 86 in the current academic year.

A consultation was held on the plans, which included a proposal to amalgamate the school with Sunnylands Primary.

However, Central has been granted a reprieve after NEELB’s final area planning document confirmed that no action would be taken over the merger proposals.

The school, which last year celebrated its 60th anniversary, will instead remain under review as part of the Department of Education’s Sustainable Schools Policy.

Welcoming the development, Mr Campbell said: “This is great news for our school community and it will now allow us to plan for the future and build up our school numbers in the years ahead.”

Thanking all of those who took part in the consultation process, Mr Campbell indicated he was in ‘no doubt’ that the responses had impacted on the NEELB’s decision making in a positive way. “There were some very cleverly argued points from parents,” he added.

The local principal expressed his hope that the decision would help to ‘stamp out the gossip of closure of the school, which [is] identified as having a negative effect on pupil admissions in the recent past’.

However, the news was met with some caution by Alderman Jim Brown, a former pupil of Central Primary. “The school has been granted a reprieve for the next four years but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe; the situation as regards numbers has caused a lot of angst and it would be better if there was a proper resolution,” he said.