South Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan says he is hopeful that Crumlin Integrated College could be saved from closure if the community works hard over the next six months.
He claimed that if enrolment figures rose and more parents send their children to the college, it could become one of the first shared option schools in Northern Ireland.
The NEELB set up a working group to create a Shared Post Primary Schoolin Crumlin and will meet agencies including the CCMS to talk about the college’s future.
“This was the very best news the school staff and pupils could have received, and we now must all work together to ensure that Crumlin shows it wants the school and that the NEELB can be in no doubt that this is the correct route to follow for Crumlin and for us all,” said Mr Kinahan, vice chairman of the Stormont Education Committee.
Crumlin Integrated College, which had been earmarked for closure, was given a reprieve after the NEELB delayed its decision to close the school in November.
A group made up of parents and staff at the college is also in the process of being set up, they met last night (Thursday). A petition was also set up which is currently available at the community centre and local shops.
MLA Danny Kinahan said that there is still the will and the fight amongst parents to save the school and believes that given a chance he could see a bright future for the school.
He urged people to sign the petition, “We have been given this chance and we need to take it. I am confident we have another year to sell the school and see enrolment figures rise.
“I have spoken to the CCMS and other agencies who have their own plans and ideas of its future.
“There is a lot to do. I am only too aware of that but I am confident that we can do it but it is feasible.
“The shared option school at Crumlin, if it goes ahead, will be the first such school in Northern Ireland.
“In a year’s time, I hope to be talking about a bright future for the school. There may be targets that have to be met with regards to the school in four or six years time but with the will I think that we can do it.”
Mr Kinahan, continued: “When it was revealed that Crumlin Integrated College was ear-marked for closure I called for a proper consultation be carried out before any final decision was taken so that all parents of existing pupils and future pupils and future parents are given the opportunity to have their views heard.
“I congratulate the parents and pupils for the work they have put in to ensure the school remains open. There is no question that great improvements have been made since the last inspection report.”
A spokesperson for the NEELB said: “Following a special meeting of the Board they agreed to the establishment of a working group involving key education partners (CCMS, NICIE, Tranferors Representative Council, School Governors) to participate, to explore the potential for the establishment of a shared management post primary school in Crumlin. The working group has been established and will be commencing its work shortly”.