Newbuildings PS will tackle parent concern

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Newbuildings Primary School has promised to address the concern of parents worried staff absence and the lack of a “more collegial and robust approach to school improvement” may be having a negative effect on educational provision at the village primary.

The school made the pledge ahead of a planned meeting of the Newbuildings Parent Teacher Association (PTA) due to take place in the Newbuildings Community Centre on Thursday at 7.30pm.

It follows a meeting chaired by DUP MLA Gary Middleton earlier this month, during which 60 parents, representing 75 per cent of pupils at the school, raised a series of concerns.

These included claims of “routine long-term absence in staff over a ten year period”; that there has been a “lack of Special Educational Needs provision within the school”; and that there has been a “lack of collegiality among staff”.

The ‘Sentinel’ put these concerns - the latter two of which were reported by Education and Training Inspectorate officers last March - to both the school and the Education Authority, after parents asked for them to be addressed.

A spokesperson for the school said: “As always the safety and wellbeing of all our pupils is the highest priority for our school.

“We are currently working closely with the Education Authority to ensure that all issues raised are addressed as quickly and effectively as possible.

“In addition, the school has in place a complaints policy through which any parent can have any matter of complaint dealt with and resolved; this is available on request from the school.”

The Education Authority also said it would work with staff and parents to address any issues.

A spokesperson said: “The Education Authority is working closely with the school and is providing support and assistance. An EA senior education officer will meet with staff and parents to listen to their concerns and will make every effort to ensure that all matters are resolved as quickly as possible. For reasons of confidentiality, the authority is unable to comment on individual staff absences.”

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “I have been working with the parents to try and get a resolution to the ongoing situation at Newbuildings Primary School.

“As a local representative I have been in direct contact with the school and the education authority to see if the issues can be addressed as a matter of urgency, ensuring the pupils are receiving the best possible education and opportunities. As a past pupil of the school, Newbuildings Primary is close to my heart.”