CLOSE TO one year ago, Lisnaskea High School closed its doors for the final time.
As the new school year approaches, the doors of the high school remain closed – even if members of the action group set up to oppose its closure still meet on a semi-regular basis.
There is still a feeling among members that the school should have remained open, utilising a shared education model along with other schools in the area.
Doreen Mullan, who used to attend the school, became chairman of the Lisnaskea Action Group.
“People were angry, very very angry,” she explained.
“There was a lot of disappointment – we went out on a limb and we took a real chance trying to sell the idea of a shared education federated model in south Fermanagh considering the history of what has happened there.
“We took a risk with the local community. There’s a lot of bad feeling in the area about things that have happened and we went forward with that shared education federated model and we sold the idea. People had come around to the idea.”
The shared education model proposed by the group was rejected however, with the Education Minister John O’Dowd instead opting to close Lisnaskea High School and form a new amalgamated post-primary school with Devenish College.
Since, seventy-five per cent (75%) of students from Lisnaskea High School transferred to Devenish College with the majority of the remaining students transferring equally between Erne Integrated College and Fivemiletown High School.
Parent, Phyllis Beacom, whose daughter Lisa attended the school, said that the closure has had a big impact on both her and the Lisnaskea community.
“I feel that people in Lisnaskea, are only now realising the loss of the school,” she said.
“It was obvious what people thought of the school closing when on the grounds of the school in June a WW1 event was held, and just looking around there were loads of people there, most of them had went to Lisnaskea High School. To look at the grounds and school, it was just such a shame the education minister hadn’t given the shared model a chance. An opportunity was definitely missed out on.”
Linda Morrison, who has worked at SD Kells in Lisnaskea for 35 years, added: “You’d definitely miss the children and buses and the buzz.”
The shop still has uniforms left over that were never – and likely will never be – sold.
“We’ve a lot of blazers – we’ve maybe 100 – 150 left as well as rugby and PE tops still in storage,” said Linda.
“People talk about the closure all the time. People are still very angry.”
The Western and Education and Library board said that they were satisfied with how the transition period went.
“In early September 2013, all staff from Devenish College and Lisnaskea High School participated in staff development to enhance professionalism which took the form of joint staff development days. These days provided an opportunity for teachers from both schools to share their knowledge and good practice to take forward implementation of the curriculum in the forthcoming academic year. The board is satisfied that the transition of pupils worked very well,” explained a spokesman.
“The WELB continues to support Devenish College on any matters raised. This includes support to the management, staff and pupils of the school. However, all students settled well into their new school community and no issues have been forthcoming to the WELB.
Questions over what will happen the school site, remain.
A WELB spokesman confirmed that the WELB’s youth service continues to operate from the site – and said that the board is currently in discussions with a local community group who have ‘expressed an interest in acquiring the site’.