Parents oppose merger of Derry special needs schools

A group of parents have started an online petition against a proposal to merge two special needs schools in Londonderry.

The Western Education and Library Board (WELB) wants to build a new school and amalgamate Belmont House Special School and nearby Foyleview.

The parents have said the move is not in their children's best interests. They are due to meet MLAs this week.

The WELB said it was taking forward a development proposal for the merger.

"The WELB believes that this proposal will provide for the education of pupils on the full spectrum of special educational needs for the Derry city and surrounding area," a WELB spokesperson said.

"The WELB is currently consulting on the proposal."

An online petition called 'save our school' has been set-up by parents of children at Belmont House Special School.

The petition states that parents were promised a new stand-alone school in 2004 but this had not happened.

They claim a new school will only be built if both schools merge. The parents claim that other schools in the WELB area have had new premises built without having to merge.

Paul McCrystal's 14-year-old daughter, Sarah, is a pupil at Belmont.

Detrimental move

"Since she has gone to Belmont she has come on leaps and bounds," he said.

"She's brilliant. She loves school."

He said to move them would be "detrimental" to pupils in both schools.

"Foyleview Special School's children have severe learning difficulties where the children in Belmont House are medium learning difficulties," he said.

"To merge these two together is two completely different curriculums.

"The board has done this before in different areas and it hasn't worked."