Alliance puts forward strong case to save threatened school

East Belfast Alliance Assembly Member, Naomi Long, has asked SEELB Commissioners to save Lisnasharragh High School as it provides a vital service for pupils from socially and economically deprived backgrounds. Naomi Long and Castlereagh Alliance Councillor, Michael Long, led a deputation to meet SEELB Commissioners this afternoon.

Cllr Naomi Long said: “I welcome the opportunity to put forward the Alliance Party case for saving Lisnasharragh High School to SEELB Commissioners. However, the decision over the future of the school must be made in an open and transparent way, to ensure that everyone can see that their opinion was taken into account.

“We feel that collectively, the parents, governors and politicians representing Lisnasharragh High School put forward a very strong case for its retention.

“It is disgraceful that this decision will be taken in the context of their being no overarching strategy for educational provision for East Belfast. The Belfast Education and Library Board and the SEELB have absolutely no strategy whatsoever in place for East Belfast.

“Such decisions regarding school closures should not be made before the findings of the Bain Review on education are published.

“Common formula funding must be abolished to ensure that schools like Lisnasharragh, which have large numbers of pupils with special educational needs, are not unfairly penalised. Common formula funding prevents children with special needs being taught in smaller classes, therefore preventing them from getting the best possible educational provision.

Alliance Party Vice Chair, Cllr Michael Long, said: “45% of pupils at Lisnasharragh High School have special educational needs, this is one and a half times the average figure for East Belfast school pupils.

“45% of pupils at Lisnasharragh are entitled to free school meals, this is also one and a half times the average for children in East Belfast.

“These statistics illustrate that this school provides a vital service for one of the most socially and economically deprived areas of East Belfast.

“These figures also show that Lisnasharragh High School has successfully mainstreamed many pupils that would otherwise have been in special educational needs schools. The fact that these pupils are in mainstream education has helped develop their learning and life skills greatly, and these skills will be of massive benefit to them when they leave school.

“The learning environment that Lisnasharragh High School has provided has allowed pupils with special educational needs to flourish in supportive and positive surroundings. The extraordinary level of pastoral care provided by Lisnasharragh has allowed this level of mainstreaming to occur.”

Michael Long concluded: “I would appeal to SEELB Commissioners to save Lisnasharragh School, as it provides a valuable service to the whole community.”


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