Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Hilden Integrated faces closure once again


Hilden Integrated Primary School

Hilden Integrated Primary School

Hilden stunned over shock Board move

JUST over a year after the community united in a successful campaign to keep Hilden Integrated PS open, staff, parents and pupils have been given the devastating news that the commissioners sent in to run the South Eastern Education and Library Board want to close it.

The news has stunned everyone connected with the school after they had been led to believe they had three years to turn around the fortunes of the small, but historical school. However, it now appears the school may close as early as the end of this year.

Principal Mr Billy Gourley said the children and staff were very upset by the news and there was a real sense of uncertainty throughout the school.

We are in the middle of a process in which none of us know what will happen. We cannot get firm answers. The timescale is very short and people need to know what their future is going to be" he said.

Barbara McConville's daughter goes to Hilden IPS and she herself was a pupil at the school, as were generations of her family.

She said children and parents are devastated. "It is so disappointing," she said. "I honestly feel like they just gave us a stay of execution. We have worked tirelessly and genuinely believed we could turn things around. This decision by the Commissioners is completely out of the blue and a 'eal smack in the face.

One mother of an autistic child is really frantic about it. The child is worried sick because he has just settled into the school. It is going to be traumatic for him.

The parents want to stay and fight it but the reality is the Commissioners are playing with children's lives and parents are concerned about the shortage of places at other Lisburn schools.The Commissioners are forcing the hand of parents, who are doing what they have to do for their children.

We are really disheartened and feel let down by the SEELB. I feel this was always part of their long term plan and I am disappointed that unelected Commissioners, who know nothing about what is going on the ground and have never been to the school can make a decision like this without consequence."

NICIE 'concerned' by new plan for Hilden school closure

THE Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) has expressed concern that if Hilden closes there will be no integrated places for children from the school.

Michael Wardlow, Chief Executive of NICIE said: The rationalisation of the schools estate, as recommended by the Strategic Review of Education by Professor George Bain, is impacting upon all schools which have low enrolments and unfortunately it would appear that Hilden, like a lot of small schools across Northern Ireland, has been earmarked for closure.

"Since the school transformed to integrated status in September 1996, Hilden has embraced the integrated ethos and contributed greatly to its local community by welcoming children from all religious and cultural backgrounds.


"Many of the parents in Hilden, a former Mill School, do not have transport and will be forced to access places in local religiously separate schools.

"This is obviously upsetting and devastating for the parents, teachers and children who have for the past 12 years been formally integrated and seems to fly in the face of the history of the school which throughout its existence has been religiously mixed."


He added: "We are concerned that if the school is closed, that theparents who want an integrated choice for their children will have no other alternative as the only established integrated primary school in the area is Oakwood IPS which is oversubscribed and is some distance from the school. We will be talking to the SEELB to present the case for planned integrated education in the greater Lisburn area as part of the proposed area based planning process to ensure that every parent who wants an integrated place for their children can have one."

School `deceived' says Davis

Ivan DavisLISBURN Councillor, Alderman Ivan Davis, who supported the campaign to keep Hilden IPS open in 2006, said the school had "been deceived by government agencies".

Mr Davis continued: "Hilden IPS is another victim of the deception and fear policy which for some considerable time has been emanating from various government agencies. "Teachers, pupils and parents have not been spared as the 'deceive and wait' philosophy worms it way through school after school and area after area.

The success of integrated education illustrates the important historical role Hilden IPS has played in the community. The contribution of past and present staff, pupils and parents cannot be overstated, sadly their contribution was not matched by figures in authority. "


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