Principal ‘devastated’ by plans to close unit

The principal of Belmont House Campus says she is “devastated” at the proposed closure of their Woodlands Language Unit.

The principal of Belmont House Campus has said she is “devastated” at the proposed closure of their Woodlands Language Unit.

The unit caters for forty pupils who have speech and language difficulties.

Staff at the school were informed of the decision to close the unit at a meeting with the WELB on Thursday past. Parents recevied letters notifying them of the decision on Monday.

Mrs. Begley said; “We’re devastated but it is not over yet.

“The decision, according to the board is due to ‘legislative requirements’ but the issue has exploded. I’ve been contacted by parents who have told me they’ve been up all night crying. We’ve built such a fantastic reputation for the work here, both in Wooodlands and the rest of the campus that it is a major blow but the parents have been unbelievable.”

Caroline McCleary, whose son attends the unit, said of the announcement: “It was completely out of the blue. I nearly fainted when I opened the letter.”

Caroline’s son Caomhan is seven and has been attending Woodlands since September. “The difference it has made to him and his life has been unbelieveable,” she said. “It is intense work that they do. Caomhan attends four days a week and spends Friday at his mainstream school, Nazereth House. He is talking clearly and everyone can understand him as well as him being able to understand others.

“It isn’t only about the pupils there currently,” warned Mrs. McCleary. “There is a long waiting list, such is the need for Woodlands Caomhan had to wait two years for his place. Who is going to help the young children who will need speech and language therapy in the future? I’m not fighting this decision for me I’m fighting it for those children who can’t speak up for themselves.”

The Journal contacted the Western Education and Library Board for comment and are awaiting a response.