‘No pain for pupils’ in Central class cuts

(l-r)Ian McConaghy (Dromore High Principal), Peter Weir MLA (Chair of Stormont Education Committee), Linda Allen (Dromore Central PS) and Brenda Hale MLA holding a map of Dromore showing approved residential development new builds for the Dromore area.
(l-r)Ian McConaghy (Dromore High Principal), Peter Weir MLA (Chair of Stormont Education Committee), Linda Allen (Dromore Central PS) and Brenda Hale MLA holding a map of Dromore showing approved residential development new builds for the Dromore area.
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News of a decision to cut two classes at Dromore Central Primary School comes with a pledge that pupils will not be allowed to suffer any adverse impact from the move.

The school recently advised parents of a Board of Governors decision to reduce the number of classes ahead of next year’s expected move to a new 26-class home, still shy of the 28 originally planned despite a determined campaign by principal Mrs Linda Allen, pupils and supporters.

Next year’s Primary Four and Primary Six year groups will now be taught in three, rather than four, classes, a decision made necessary, said Mrs Allen, by the new school’s constraints combined with budget cuts.

In implementing the decision, she said, the school had selected the two smallest year groups, whose distribution across four classes was a “luxury” Dromore Central had been fortunate to sustain for a long as it did.

Stressing that no changes were planned in respect of other year groups, which are expected to continue to operate on a four-class basis, Mrs Allen also laid to rest fears, as voiced by one concerned parent, of class sizes numbering in the mid-to-high 30s; they would stand at 30/31 pupils, she said.

The same parent argued P6 was a vital year for pupils to prepare for P7 and to increase class numbers was to put pupils moving into P6 at “a distinct disadvantage”.

Mrs Allen, however, was adamant the move would not be detrimental to teaching.

“This is not a decision we wanted to make,” she said, “but it’s one that unfortunately we had to make. We will be going into a school with fewer classrooms than first planned.

“We have fought continually for two years and worked closely with political parties to try and change that and it’s very disappointing that we have been unable to secure 28 classrooms, but that obviously means we have to plan around that.

“It has come too in unfortunate conjunction with school budget cuts; we have been hit by cuts, as have all schools.

“As good managers we have to plan bearing in mind both of those things and the teachers have worked very hard to ensure that the mix of children is right in the two year groups concerned - the smallest year groups and best able to move to three classes - and that children with friendship groups will all be together.

“Teachers are making sure the children work together between now and the end of term to get to know each other.

“This will not be detrimental to teaching. The teachers are very professional and very capable and dedicated and will work tirelessly to make sure the curriculum is delivered for each child.”