UFU discuss rural schools closure with the chairman of the Education Committee

Wednesday, 22 May, 2013

    UFU discuss rural schools closure with the chairman of the                                  Education Committee

Ulster Farmers’ Union Deputy President Barclay Bell and UFU Rural Affairs representatives met with Mervyn Storey, Chairman of Northern Ireland Education Committee to discuss the issue of school area plans. 

Barclay Bell said; “The UFU have been very vocal in their disappointment that the Education Minister has earmarked a disproportionate number of rural schools for closure following the publication of Strategic Area Plans Primary Provision and we took the opportunity to raise the concerns that we have with the Chair of the Northern Ireland Education Committee before attending a Northern Ireland Assembly debate on the Future of Rural schools.  The debate called for a holistic solution to the future of rural schools which was passed on an oral vote.

“We explained to Mr Storey that the proposal to close these rural schools flies in the face of the Northern Ireland Executives’ Rural White Paper Action Plan, which clearly outlines a commitment to the development of our rural areas and supporting our rural communities.  We firmly believe that the Department of Education should be committed to protecting rural schools and their unique place in rural communities and also seizing the opportunity for them to deliver even more for the community.  In addition, the UFU support Mervyn Storey’s view that a small schools policy should be developed by the Education Minister first before any final decision is made on the future of rural schools.”

The UFU will meet with the Education Minister again on Tuesday 28th May 2013 to discuss their concerns and this issue further.