Susannah French and her daughter Willow Davis,1 yr, with other parents from Our Lady of Lourdes concerned about the school takeover.
Susannah French and her daughter Willow Davis,1 yr, with other parents from Our Lady of Lourdes concerned about the school takeover. Jacklyn Wagner

Parents upset as schools merge

WANTING the best possible education for her six-year-old daughter, Susannah French examined all the options including Lismore’s St Carthage’s before deciding on the nearby and much smaller Our Lady of Lourdes Infant School.

So, she said, it came as shock to find out last month that the school would be taken over by the much larger St Carthage’s next year.

“When I enrolled her I was told without asking that the school would stay open,” Ms French said. “Now my daughter will be effectively enrolled in St Carthage’s – that’s not my choice or decision.

“Our Lady of Lourdes prides itself on fostering the spirit of co-operation and liaison. Parents are extremely disappointed that a decision regarding the school’s future and the education and care of our children, was publicly announced without prior consultation.”

The Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Lismore, announced the amalgamation of the two schools late last month.

The director of Catholic schools Dr Anne Wenham said at the time: “The amalgamation has significant educational and social benefits for the students of both campuses. It also ensures the long-term viability of Our Lady of Lourdes as part of the educational commitment of the parish.”

Yesterday the assistant director of school resources services David Condon said the decision was ultimately made because it was "necessary for the school to have the back-up support which would be provided by a much larger educational establishment."

“The children will receive the added benefits of these resources when the amalgamation takes place,” he added.

The two schools have had a sister relationship since Our Lady of Lourdes was established in 1959 because of the rapid growth of St Carthage’s Primary School.

Yesterday Mr Condon defended the lack of consultation with parents.

“It was not deemed necessary because the decision that was made did not include closure or any other developments at Our Lady of Lourdes,” he said.

Ms French said parents who have met privately since the announcement “unanimously” agreed they did not want the amalgamation to go ahead.

“The school suits the needs of our individual children and operates as extension of the family network,” she said.

“We have a tight-knit community, dedicated and professional staff as well as a hardworking inspired principal.”

An information night will be held at the school on Tuesday at 6pm.



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