Bushmills Education Centre to be axed by Education Authority

A variety of programmes are offered at Bushmills Education Centre.
A variety of programmes are offered at Bushmills Education Centre.

The Education Authority (EA) has confirmed plans to shut Bushmills Outdoor Education Centre.

The facility is one of four earmarked for closure as part of a review of services in Northern Ireland.

Announcing a period of public consultation on the proposals, the EA stated it has carried out a comprehensive review of residential and outdoor education provision which has encompassed the views of schools, young people, parents, staff and interest groups.

Dr Clare Mangan, EA director of Children and Young Peoples’ Service, said: “ During the 12-week consultation it is anticipated that those who have an interest in this area will consider the recommendations and will provide the EA with their views in relation to the proposals.

“The Authority continues to value the opportunities provided by residential and outdoor education centres to make a significant contribution to the development of our young people and society; influencing their lives throughout and beyond their formal education.

“It also enables the EA to enhance the services provided through strengthening a collaborative approach between the statutory and voluntary sectors.

“The recommendations in this review will enable EA to meet the expectations of government policy, address issues of over-provision and ensure that Youth Service resources are deployed effectively to front line services based on a composite regional and local assessment of need.”

Members of the community have already issued a ‘hands off’ warning over the Bushmills site.

TUV Alderman Sharon McKillop said: “ Closing Bushmills Education Centre would be a seriously retrograde step. Outdoor education centres are important for young people not just when it comes to their health and physical activity but also contact with nature.”

The multi-purpose centre on the outskirts of Bushmills is facing closure by August 2017 under the rationalisation plan.

The review report and supporting documentation can be viewed at www.eani.org.uk/consultations. The consultation closes on February 6, 2017.