Principals from Lisburn and the wider Lagan Valley area seized an opportunity last week to discuss with the First Minister the difficulties facing education.
Thirteen principals gathered at Moira Primary School, where a visiting Arlene Foster first met Key Stage Two pupils before listening to the head-teachers’ concerns on a range of issues.
The meeting was at the behest of Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale, who said: “This event was weeks in the planning and I must thank Mrs Carol Mairs, principal of Moira PS and the principal of Dromara PS, Mr Andrew Armstrong, for all the work that was needed behind the scenes.
“Over the last five years I have worked closely with many of the Lisburn principals and it was important to me that the First Minister heard their concerns around funding, special educational needs and resources.”
Joining Mrs Mairs and Mr Armstrong were Barbara Spence,Brookfield Special School; Frances Hughes ,Rowandale Integrated PS; Tracey Cassells, Barbour Nursery; Gillian Dunlop, Largymore PS; Graham Gault,Maghaberry PS; Colin Elliott, Brownlee PS; James Curran, Parkview SS; Richard Lawther, Wallace Prep; Jim Brown, Fairhill PS, Kinallen; Linda Allen, Dromore Central PS and Cathy Milne, St Aloysius PS.
Mrs Foster said of her visit: “Whilst it was wonderful to hear the children serenade me with ‘Truly Scrumptious’ and receive a really warm welcome, it was during my meeting with the principals from the locality that we considered some of the difficulties facing education.
“I love school visits, as children ask the simplistic yet tough questions. At almost every school a child will ask me why I’m a politician?
“My answer is always the same - We’ve a great country of which I am immensely proud. I want you to grow up here, get a job here, raise your family here and I want you to be as proud of Northern Ireland as I am.
“School visits focus our mind on the next generation. I always leave schools feeling more motivated to lead this country forward.
“When I was growing up it wasn’t a nice place. . .“I’m glad things have changed but we’ve so much more to do.”