Garvagh pupils getting a “raw deal” claims McQuillan

GARVAGH school children are getting a “raw deal” by the Education Board according to a local MLA.

DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan says he has been contacted by a number of local parents about the cost of school transport for their children, who are former pupils of Garvagh High School.

Since the announcement that Garvagh High School will close later this summer, many parents have already opted to transfer their children to other schools to continue their education.

Mr McQuillan claims that the children who opted to transfer to Limavady High School are having to pay for their transport whilsts their peers, who opted for schools in Coleraine, get free transport to and from school.

The MLA says that during a consultation about the future of the Garvagh school, the Education Board listed Limavady High School as an option for pupils as well as Coleraine based schools. He says that both sets of pupils should be treated equally.

“I just feel that the pupils who opted for Limavady High School are getting a raw deal,” said Mr McQuillan.

“They are having to pay for their transport - yet their class mates who are travelling a similar distance to North Coast Integrated are getting a bus pass.

“I understand that Limavady High School falls under the Western Board, however I still believe all pupils should be treated the same.

“We will no longer have a school here in Garvagh come June, so more young people will be affected by this.

“I feel that now is the time for the Board to put something in place and iron out this discrepancy.”

Repsonding to the MLA, the NEELB said: “The NEELB is required to operate within the Department of Education’s transport policy at all times and that is the basis on which decisions regarding entitlement to transport assistance are made.

“The Board recognises the issues that arise as a result of a school closure and is committed to working with the Principal (with whom we have already been in contact with) and the families to ensure that they are well informed about the process of applying for and eligibility for transport assistance.”