THE PRINCIPAL of Glastry College has described the Integrated Education Act as ‘an appalling piece of legislation’.

Alan Hutchinson was giving his speech at the school’s recent prize afternoon, when he referred to the Act as ‘legalised discrimination’ which he feared would lead to schools and students outside the integrated sector ‘awaiting the scraps from the integrated table’. Saying he didn’t want to ‘stray into the political arena’, Mr Hutchinson admitted the points he had to make would ‘come across that way’.

He told his audience: “Firstly, new builds and capital expenditure should be prioritised fairly and rationally based on need, rather than the sectoral designation. Sadly, given the passing of the Integrated Education Act, I fear that the legalised discrimination central to this appalling piece of legislation will result in schools – and students – outside the integrated sector awaiting the scraps from the integrated table.”

The Glastry principal continued: “The failure by those who could have prevented this bill being passed but chose not to, for poorly adjudged political reasons, was utterly shameful. “Given that there is an ongoing review of education in Northern Ireland the bill was illIntegrated Education Act ‘an appalling piece of legislation’ says principal Glastry College prize distribution timed. Additionally, when so-called political leaders decry the current system as ‘educational apartheid’ this is both unhelpful, insulting and displays an astounding level of ignorance of what is happening within schools in Northern Ireland.

It should be noted that Glastry College is open to all students of all abilities regardless of their religious background. “Secondly, it is imperative that Northern Ireland schools, regardless of type or sector, receive sufficient funding as a matter of urgency as the current financial situation in schools is unsustainable. “The level of funding should reflect the fundamental importance of high-quality educational provision to societal and economic stability and success. Education must be viewed as an investment in our collective future. “Thirdly, schools and young people require support services which act in an effective and timely fashion which are focused on the needs of schools and their students. We do not need a bureaucratic and burdensome organisation which is rigidly process driven. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Turning to examination results, Mr Hutchinson revealed GSCE results were ‘the best in the history of Glastry with 93% of students achieving five or more A*-C grades at GCSE’. He added: “It is important to recognise that the grades achieved by the students this academic year were higher than the centre determined grades obtained by students in the previous two years when all public examinations were cancelled. He praised students Klara Wallace, who achieved three A*s at A-level, and Caitlin Adair who achieved nine A* grades at GCSE.

Mr Hutchinson also revealed there had been an ongoing programme of work to improve the building over the last few years, and he thanked Brian Hunter at the Education Authority for ‘ensuring that much of this work took place’. He added: “In a further development, Glastry College is currently part of the School Enhancement Programme and planning is very well advanced.

This will provide a modern extension containing modern classrooms which will replace the mobile classrooms. “Whilst this long overdue work is welcomed, what is needed and deserved for our outstanding young people is a new state-of-the art building for Glastry College. It remains a grievous injustice that they do not have the benefits of such facilities currently.”

The principal concluded his address by offering his congratulations to all those students receiving prizes: “I am tremendously proud of you all and I hope you are proud of yourselves. Your success is well deserved, so enjoy your moment of recognition,” he said.