Letters to the Editor

Pupils have better sense of belonging and worth in smaller schools

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate principal Ian Bell and his staff on the outstanding job they have been doing in turning round Movilla High School from a failing school –  described by some as one of the worst schools in Northern Ireland – to a place of learning.
As he himself has said: “Three years ago we were one of the worst performing schools in Northern Ireland but now our results are above the Northern Ireland average with 81 per cent of our pupils achieving
A*–C. We have turned the school around to a place of learning again where the pupils realise their abilities. We need the chance to keep this going.”
Pupil numbers are also on the rise. Year 8 numbers have jumped from 30 to 48 and will be higher again in September. And the response of the Education Authority to this outstanding achievement by parents, pupils and teachers is to propose the closure of the school by 2024. Their plan is to increase the numbers in four other schools in north Down and Ards to accommodate the closure. Bangor Academy is to increase its numbers to 1,800 pupils, Glastry College to 900 and Regent House Grammar to 1,570 pupils.
There is a large and consistent body of research on school size in support of smaller schools. While there is no clear agreement about what constitutes a ‘small’ school or a ‘large ‘school,  many researchers indicate that an appropriate and effective size  is between 300 and 400 in the primary sector and 400 and 800 in the secondary. There is a general belief that larger schools are less expensive and have higher quality curricula than small schools. Research has demonstrated, however, that neither of these assertions is necessarily true. Academic achievement in small schools is at least equal, and often superior to that of large schools. Student attitudes towards school in general and towards particular school subjects are more positive in small schools.
Students social behaviour is more positive in small schools. Levels of extra-curricula participation are much higher and more varied in small schools and students in small schools derive greater satisfaction from participation. Student attendance is better and a smaller percentage of students drop out. Students have a better sense of belonging  and their academic and general self worth is higher.

Downpatrick, Co Down


Abortion is greatest human rights abuse of 21st century

As a regular reader of The Irish News I normally agree with Brian Feeney. However, whereas most of his article on the DUP and Boris Johnson (July 17) is correct I have to take issue with his ‘hundreds of Conservatives voted to bring the north into the 21st century’.
How? By voting for the legislation of taking the life of an unborn child. As Brian Feeney’s former SDLP colleague, Alban Maginness, has pointed out that the greatest human rights abuse of the 21st century is the termination in the womb of the unborn child. This has nothing to do with religion but science. In Scandinavia the eugenics solution is killing off entire groups of people like Down Syndrome people. Surely, everyone has the right to life. Northern Ireland has its problems but its success in preserving the life of more than 102,000 people due to the restrictive abortion law has to be applauded. Perhaps Brian Feeney could write a column on eugenics or if abortion is health care why the controversy?

Leitir Ceanainn, Tir Chonaill



Supporting women’s rights

C Murray (July 17) thinks I insulted him “as a Catholic fellow traveller of the DUP” in my July 10 letter. I fail to see how as I know him not.

I believe that Irish people should unite on democratic rights, one being the right of women to control their own bodies. More and more people agree with my view. Fewer Irish News readers are “insulted” by support for the right of women to decide whether or not to give birth. The partitioned six county area is the only part of Ireland, or the UK, that outlaws equal marriage and abortion. That is because it is partitioned. It is a place apart in which, in James Connolly’s phrase, a “Carnival of reaction” is played out.

I fully support C Murray’s right to be part of the vociferous anti-abortion lobby, but that lobby has no right to restrain the right of women, their partners and supporters, to decide whether or not to be pregnant. Baroness O’Loan and Robin Eames are attempting currently to prevent Westminster from removing the DUP anti-abortion logjam. They are consumed with indignation that the partitioned six county area is not left to its own devices. If that view held sway, the unionist minority in Derry would still run the council, while ‘B’ Specials would help enforce Northern Ireland’s anti-abortion laws.

Templeogue, Dublin 6



breach of the

Lord’s day


he British Open golf tournament in Portrush is being hailed as a major sporting, economic and tourism success –  which indeed it was – but no-one as far as I know has highlighted that the final day was yet another breach of the sanctity of the Lord’s Day. Surely the event could have started a day early and finished on Saturday, but why do that when you can blatantly disregard God and His day. Yet again, the god of this world has taken precedence over the God of the Bible, but, sadly, few seem to care.



Evangelical Protestant Society, Belfast



Betrayal of the men of 1916


re Sinn Féin going to be traitors to Ireland?

Westminster has legislated for the north of Ireland to allow abortion up to 28 weeks if Stormont does not reform before 21 October 2019.

Will Sinn Féin wash their hands of this and stand idly aside while the British government legislates to take Irish lives?

Is this betrayal what the men of 1916 died for?



Glenavy, Co Antrim



Ireland united through sport


e have the united Ireland we most need when sportsmen and women do us proud, north and south. The political stuff is well worn out by now.



Bantry, Co Cork


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