2,500 back St Aidan's Area Planning alternative

Published: 5 Nov 2012 12:00

MEMBERS of St Aidan's Community Action Group say their proposal to retain 11-16 post primary education in South East Fermanagh has been endorsed by over 2,500 people.

Members of the St. Aidan's Community Action Group along with local politicians and community representatives who attended a public meeting to launch their Federated Post Primary Education model for rural schools.

Their alternative proposal to the potential amalgamation of four schools, St Aidan's High School, Derrylin, St Comhghall's College, Lisnaskea, St Eugene's College, Roslea and Lisnaskea High School, could see each school sharing administrative staff, specialist facilities and teachers, if accepted.

The Action Group says there has been a strong show of local support expressed in the responses to the consultation on the area plan proposals for post primary reform which closed on Friday, October 26.

At a packed public meeting in St Aidan's just two weeks beforehand the Action Group launched its ambitious proposal for a Federated Post Primary Education model for South and East Fermanagh, entitled Rural Education Plus.

The large audience heard that the proposal was being taken seriously and was being assessed on an equal basis with other proposals for the area by the CCMS and WELB as part of their Strategic Review of the sector.

The huge community response to the consultation process has been matched by support from the Catholic Church and politicians.

The Action Group has received unanimous endorsement from across the political spectrum and all politicians present signed a declaration of support for the proposal.

The Bishop of Kilmore, Dr Leo O'Reilly has also given his full backing for the plan, which the Group feel can be a creative model for other rural and disadvantaged communities.

Bishop Leo O'Reilly told the audience: "It is vital that a sustainable and vibrant post primary facility is retained here in Derrylin. The model proposed is a win-win for South and East Fermanagh. I thank the Action Group for their work in developing this proposal, in lobbying for it, in putting it so forcefully and I hope that your efforts will bear much fruit."

Commenting on the meeting and the response to the consultation, the Vice Chair of the St Aidan's Action Group, Brian McTeggart said: "Rural Education Plus is an innovative proposal for rural and post primary schools in South and East Fermanagh. This ground swell of support from the community speaks for itself. People of the area accept the need for change but are crystal clear in their bottom line requirement - retention long term of 11 - 16 post primary education at the St Aidan's site in Derrylin. We are very pleased with the continuing support from the community and we are more convinced than ever that our Rural Education Plus plan will deliver a vastly superior educational outcome for the pupils of this area than any other option out there and it will do it more effectively as well."

The CCMS and WELB are currently completing a detailed assessment on the proposals first put forward by the group in April.

The Action Group says initial comparisons in relation to workability and cost-savings for their alternative proposal are positive.

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