Alderman Paul Porter
KNOCKMORE Primary got the news it had been hoping for this week when the South Eastern Education and Library Board announced that provision of learning support units will remain at the school.
There had been fears the school - saved from closure last year - would be hit by the loss of some of its special needs units if a proposal from the Board went ahead.
But Principal Ms. Sharon Shannon has received notification that this is not the case following a meeting of the SEELB Commissioners who met to discuss development proposals and the responses received.
Alderman Paul Porter, who supported the school, in its campaign to retain the units, said he was delighted by the decision.
He said: "There is a clear need for the special needs units at Knockmore Primary School and I welcome the Board's decision.
"The School is a centre of excellence and a role model for others and should not be tampered with. It is positive news for the school which, over the last year, has had to face adversity but has come out of it united and ever growing in numbers."
He added: "Thanks must be given to the Board of Governors, Principal, staff and most importantly the parents who showed their faith and trust in the school as a result of working together and lobbying the Board. It is a positive decision and I look forward to its continued growth and delivery of the excellent education it currently provides."
Alderman Paul Givan also welcomed the news and praised the local community for "rallying around when the school was under threat in both occasions".
He said the Board needs to learn from this as "unnecessary anxiety" was caused and he said he now hopes the school will "continue to grow and be left to thrive and have full support for the Board". Alderman Jonathan Craig also welcomed the news and praised the parents who demonstrated their confidence in the school.
A spokesman for the SEELB said: "The SEELB recently carried out a consultation to seek views on the potential publication of four separate development proposals for establishment of new learning support units at four schools with effect from 1 September 2012. The proposals were for the potential establishment of Learning Support Units at St Luke's Twinbrook, Ballynahinch and Carryduff Primary Schools; and the change of status of the MLD Units at St Malachy's Primary School Castlewellan.
"As a result of the findings of the consultation the Commissioners agreed at their meeting on 28 June 2012 to proceed with the publication in September 2012 of the development proposals for the establishment of a Learning Support Unit at Carryduff Primary School the change of status of the MLD Units at St Malachy's Primary School Castewellan to a Learning Support Unit. Both proposals would be for the establishment of the Units on I September 2013 or as soon as possible thereafter.
The Commissioners also agreed not to proceed with the proposals for St Luke's Twinbrook and Ballynahinch Primary Schools but to keep them under review.
"The immediate impact of this decision is that the current Learning Support Units at Knockmore Primary School will remain unchanged for 2012/13. As with all educational provision in the SEELB the position will be kept under review in the light of the demands and resources available to the Board."