Primary School Provision in Ballymena South

Part of Adjournment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 6:00 pm on 3rd November 2009.

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Photo of Declan O'Loan Declan O'Loan Social Democratic and Labour Party 6:00 pm, 3rd November 2009

I do not have the figures. I know that both had very small populations, but there was a need to provide education in the maintained sector in that area, and that need had to be addressed.

At that point, various options and mixes were proposed, with the potential closures of Dunclug, Ballee and Harryville primary schools. The board continued to work on and consult on these matters, and the next significant stage was when it got feedback. There was no absolute consensus on the outcome, but the board made recommendations in September 2008. For the north end of the town, which is served in part by the county primary, it deferred its decision until more clarity could be obtained on broader education issues. For the southern end of the town, it suggested not amalgamation but closure of one or both of Ballee and Harryville primary schools, with other specific recommendations about the nursery units, which are also important.

That led to a further consultation, which, in turn, has led to the eventual decision of the board to close Ballee Primary School — a painful decision, as I know. Mr Storey may be right that no economic rationale has been provided. I certainly do not know what the rationale is. I only know the outcome. I think that we all agree that the needs of this socially difficult and deprived area must be paramount, and deciding the best education solution for the area is a challenge for the board. Mr Storey made a particular proposal —