he educational welfare of children must take precedence over Tory-DUP austerity cuts, Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said.
The party’s education spokesperson was commenting after the Education Authority’s (EA) 2018-19 action plan set out proposed changes to the schools estate which could lead to a number of closures and mergers.
“There are no proposals at this stage to close any school but when people hear the EA referring to sustainability issues, that raises obvious concerns with parents, staff and local communities,” the Foyle MLA said.
“However, the sustainability criteria covers six different areas and these will all have to be closely examined in any proposals that do come forward, so low numbers alone is not a reason to close a school.
“And while we recognise there are issues facing the schools estate, the primary focus has to be the educational welfare of children. That is what should be driving any changes, not a desire to cut spending in the face of Tory-DUP austerity cuts.
“That will be Sinn Féin’s focus as we engage with the EA on their proposals and I would urge everyone concerned to take part in any consultation process that is undertaken to ensure the EA and the Education Department take account of all factors and not simply use enrolment numbers as a reason to close or amalgamate schools.”