Chris Lyttle said: “Alliance has serious concerns for the workability of aspects of this model of outdoor education provision and the manner by which the decision to introduce it has been taken and communicated.
“The time at which this decision was published by the EA means it is highly likely many staff would not have been directly briefed or had an opportunity to question exactly what impact this will have on their centre.
“The decision to close Ardnabannon will be a massive disappointment to staff, schools, youth groups and everyone associated with the outstanding outdoor education provision at this centre.
“Under normal circumstances an analysis of the thousands of consultation responses to the original proposals would have been presented to an Assembly Education Committee for full, open and transparent public scrutiny before a final decision was taken. It is immensely frustrating this important scrutiny function could not be performed and how DUP, Sinn Fein, UUP and SDLP EA Board appointees responded to these proposals when asked for their approval will be a matter of public concern.
“There does appear to be positive aspects of the proposals such as the partnership with the Corrymeela Centre to allow children and young people from a wide range of backgrounds to experience residential learning together and the opportunity for young people to gain experience and core youth work and outdoor education qualifications whilst volunteering with the new Outdoor Learning Service.
“This and the assurances given by the EA there will be no compulsory redundancies for staff will not lessen the disappointment that will be felt by many people across Northern Ireland in response to this decision.”
The Education Authority statement and proposals on this matter are available here.