Support growing in fight to save Hilden
PARENTS, staff and governors at Hilden
Integrated Primary School are continuing their battle against
the proposed closure and have held a series of meetings in
recent weeks to rally support for the school.
Last week a delegation from the school, which
included the Principal, vice chair and Chairman of the Board of
Governors, met with the Chief Executive of the South Easter
Education, Irene Knox, and said they felt more positive about
the future of the school following the meeting.
"We raised many major items of concern with
the Chief Executive, including the selection of Hilden for
proposed closure and the criteria used to make that selection,"
Chairman of Hilden Integrated Primary School's Board of
Governors, Terry Conway.
"We emerged from the meeting in a more positive
mood and we felt that our points had finally been properly
considered. "We felt the Chief Executive had a good approach to
the whole debate and she took on board more readily the points
wewere raising," he added.
Mr Conway also raised the proposed closure of
the school with a representative of the Children's Commissioner,
who said she would be writing to the Chief Executive of the
SEELB, questioning why the school had been selected for closure.
The Senior Development Officer at the
Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, Lorna McAlpin,
also met with Mr Conway last week, giving details about
integrated education provision in the Lisburn area.
Mr Conway said he had been greatly encouraged
by the level of support for retaining the school. "The latest
support has come to us from Dawson Stelfox, who is developing
the site at Barbour Threads in Hilden," he said.
"He indicated over 40 houses will be built in
the area within the next eighteen months, with plans for some
500 residences in the area in five to ten years.
"He also voiced his support for the retention
of the school, which can be an important factor when families
are looking to buy houses in an area," added Mr Conway.
He is also intending to write to the new
Education Minister, Ms Maria Eagle, as well as to the Secretary
of State, Peter Hain, to make them aware of the situation.
Mr Conway has also thanked parents and
friends of the school who have worked tirelessly to campaign for
the retention of the school.
The parents have recently established a
steering group to co-ordinate their efforts and have set up a
website to lobby support for Hilden Integrated.
"The message we need to get out there is a
positive one," said Mr Conway. "We want to encourage parents.
They should feel more confident about the school staying open
following the meetings that have taken place and the support
that we have received," he concluded.
The message coming from Hilden Integrated
Primary School and the surrounding community is quite clear - do
not close our school.