Stephen Farry stated: “There is naturally a lot of concern arising from the decision of the South-Eastern Education and Library Boards to close both Conlig and Groomsport Primary Schools. The decisions come without proper consultation with staff, parents and children affected and without much indication of a wider plan for education provision within the North Down area.
“The loss of Groomsport as an integrated school is a particular loss as it offers a particular ethos. The integrated sector is the one strand in education where pupils numbers are growing. It is a scandal that students and their parents are choosing integrated schools, but through a lack of provision, potential pupils are being turned away.
“There is already considerable demand for integrated education within the Bangor area, and it is certain to grow even further over time. The relatively low numbers of students enrolled in Groomsport was not a reflection on demand for integrated education rather it is a reflection of other factors such as location.
“A major problem is that no organisation has the responsibility for strategically planning for the provision of integrated schools. Instead, it becomes the responsibility for groups of parents to lobby for new build schools or for individual schools to decide to transform to integrated status. This is not an effective way to plan for future provision.
“Alliance believes that there is sufficient scope for a new build integrated school to be build in Bangor South. It could have a very large catchment area. One possible site would be on the land allocated for community facilities in relation to massive new build housing along the Green Road.
“An integrated school would appeal to all sides of the community. It is incumbent upon either the Board or the Department of Education to take on the community planning responsibility to make this happen.”