'Sadness' as two Ballyclare schools to close next year

Straid Primary School is set to close in August 2024. (Pic: Contributed).
Straid Primary School is set to close in August 2024. (Pic: Contributed).

The statement continued: “Moving forward we remain fully committed to providing educational excellence through Straid Primary, ‘Where Every Child Matters.”

The Upper Ballyboley community is also coming to terms with the news their school is to close in 2024.

Principal, Mr Stringer, who has been in post since 2021, stated: “The community of Upper Ballyboley are extremely saddened by the news of the school’s closure, but we aim to have an exciting final year in which the school’s rich history will be celebrated.

Mr Stringer, pictured with pupils after taking up the Principal's post at Upper Ballyboley PS. (Pic: Contributed).
Mr Stringer, pictured with pupils after taking up the Principal's post at Upper Ballyboley PS. (Pic: Contributed).

"I’d like to thank both current and past staff as well as the governors who have supported the school.

"I’d also like to thank the parents whose trust and support in our school has been important in creating such a positive learning environment.

"Finally, I’d like to thank all of the children who have made the school the best primary school I’ve worked in.

“It’s a shame that a school so special can be taken away from a community instead of being supported to continue the excellent education it delivers for every child.

“We promise to continue providing our children with the highest standards of education that we’ve always provided and ensure that we will celebrate this special school with our community throughout this final year.

“The governors have rigorously supported the school during the last few difficult years and will continue to sustain and promote the interests of the children, parents, and staff in our final year.

“Unfortunately, this decision is final, and the school cannot stop this process due to the number of children we have leaving for secondary at the end of this year.

"We continue to work with the EA to support the transition of children and staff into their future schools.”

Commenting on the decision to close the schools, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “The Department fully appreciates that the decisions on the Development Proposals (DPs) for Straid Primary School and Upper Ballyboley PS will have come as a great disappointment to staff, parents and pupils.

“Any decision in relation to the discontinuance of a school is not taken lightly and it is recognised that closures are emotive and unsettling for all concerned. It is in that context that the decision maker must balance all information and evidence presented to ensure that any decision is the right one in the circumstances and the one that will deliver in the long-term interests of children and young people.

“All evidence on which the decisions were taken has been published on the Department’s website. This includes a detailed assessment of both the body of representation made to the Department during the statutory objection period and that issued in response to the Education Authority’s (EA’s) pre-publication consultation.

“It is the role of the Education Authority (EA) as the proposer of these DPs to implement the decisions. The EA will meet with staff to discuss options and will determine a suitable timeframe of implementation in collaboration with the schools and principals which will be in the best interests of all concerned.”

In a statement issued to this newspaper, a spokesperson for the Education Authority (EA) stated: "The Education Authority is supporting the schools following the Permanent Secretary's decision to approve the discontinuances of Straid Primary School and Upper Ballyboley Primary School with effect from August 31 2024, and in particular is working closely with the two principals.

"Meetings have been arranged to support governors, staff and parents/guardians through the process."