Education Minister John O'Dowd has turned down a development proposal to close Malvern Primary School, Belfast.
Speaking about his decision, the Minister said:
“I have listened carefully to the representations of Malvern Primary School and the local community and have decided to turn down this development proposal and allow the school to remain open.
I fully acknowledge and understand why the then BELB brought forward this proposal and my decision should not be seen as a criticism of their actions in this regard.
My decision reflects the unique circumstances pertaining in the local community served by the school and my belief that the development of an area-wide solution is needed.
The Greater Shankill area has been designated as a Children and Young People’s Action Zone and the Lower Shankill where Malvern is situated has been earmarked for improvements under the Building Successful Communities Programme, I believe both these initiatives will assist in an area solution being found.
The deficit at the school cannot be ignored and needs to be dealt with robustly by the school and the Education Authority. I note there are plans in place to bring the deficit under control, however, the school must live within its annual budget and if the deficit is not reduced to 5% from 2016/17 financial year then another development proposal will have to be brought forward seeking the closure of the school.”
In conclusion, the Minister said:
“I will be writing to the Education Authority to ask them to work closely with Malvern Primary School in order to address this issue as a matter of urgency.”
Notes to editors:
- Malvern Primary School is a controlled school located in Belfast’s Lower Shankill area. Its current enrolment totals 99 pupils.
- The (former) Belfast Education and Library Board published Development Proposal No 225 on 28 January 2015, which proposed the closure of Malvern Primary School, with effect from September 2015 or as soon as possible thereafter.
- The Education and Library Boards were replaced by the Education Authority on 1 April 2015.
- The Greater Shankill area has been designated as a Children and Young People’s Action Zone.
- The Department of Social Development’s Building Successful Communities Programme (which aims to tackle dereliction and decay within disadvantaged communities) has earmarked six pilot areas including one at Lower Shankill and Brown’s Square, within which Malvern Primary School is situated.
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