Battle to save Dunmurry High is underway

THE Dunmurry community has vowed to fight the proposed closure of Dunmurry High School.

Monday, 10th October 2011, 2:56 pm

After a meeting of an organising committee on Monday night, which saw local community leaders and representatives come together, it was agreed that the community was determined to fight any closure.

Lagan Valley Assembly member Jonathan Craig, who attended the meeting, said there is a great sense of fear and anxiety surrounding the proposed closure of the school.

He said: “Local community leaders, along with parents, are committed to fighting any closure of the school which has served the interests of the local community and further afield for many years.”

Local groups intend to link up with community leaders and parents from the Village area of South Belfast and a public meeting will be planned in the next few weeks in the heart of the village.

Mr Craig continued: “It emerged that 63% of pupils attending Dunmurry High School come from South Belfast. Many of these children have already moved schools several times due to closures and another threat of closure will only threaten their well being and education.

“It also emerged that some 34% of children in attendance at Dunmurry High have Special Needs and benefit from the special Nurture Programme that the schools operates. This represents a significant number and should not be overlooked by the Board.”

Mr Craig said that education is important in the current economic climate and he will fight to defend these children’s right to a local education.

“I, along with my colleagues, Cllr Margaret Tolerton and Brenda Hale MLA, are committed to seeing this through.” the MLA said.

Monday night’s meeting follows a meeting with Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, Mervyn Storey, on Monday at Stormont which was attended by Mr Craig, Mrs Hale, the Principal Mr Mervyn Magee and Vice-Principal Mr Maurice Warnock along with the Head Boy and Girl.

Speaking on behalf of Brenda Hale and himself Mr Craig said: “We were only too pleased to arrange this meeting with the Chair of the Education Committee, Mervyn Storey, in light of this shocking news last week.”

He continued: “All in attendance spoke of their passion and love for the school and anger over its proposed closure as early as next year. We will, collectively, be asking questions of the Minister and Department with regard to this issue, especially the legalities of it as there are pupils currently attending the school who are about to start their GCSEs. Parents are angry and worried about their child’s education and rightly so.”

Mark Black from the Seymour Hill and Conway community network said the group believe that closing the school could affect the pupils “for the rest of their lives and future careers”.

He said: “Dunmurry High School is an important part of the community infrastructure of the Seymour Hill Area. The group and associated groups will work with the school, parents and political representatives to ensure that Dunmurry High School remains in that role. We believe that children being moved against their will is a traumatic event and only adds more pressure on young people.”