Roy Beggs MLA, has expressed concern at the plans to close the only remaining Education Other Than At School (EOTAS) provision at the Monkstown, Educational Guidance Centre, which is the only remaining EOTAS service provided within Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey.
Roy Beggs MLA, Ulster Unionist MLA, who is actively involved in trying to address educational under achievement and had visited the service said,
“Closing the local EOTAS provision is a retrograde step. Pupils can fall out of post primary school for complex reasons and EOTAS can play an important role in assisting them with continuing their education. I am concerned with the plans to close the Monkstown EOTAS service and instead relay on a service provided in Ballymena some 25 miles away. EOTAS plays an important role in assisting alternative education and sometimes the return of pupils to main stream schooling. Young People from Carrickfergus, and Newtownabbey and parts of Larne will have to travel the considerable additional distance to Ballymena. This in itself could create another barrier to returning young people to main stream education. This remote service will also require considerable travel costs.
The Newtownabbey campus of the Northern Regional College can often play an important role through EOTAS in enabling skills or qualifications to be achieved. Given the transport links, it makes much more sense for a young person from Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey and parts of Larne to link with the Northern Regional College at Newtownabbey rather than at NRC in Ballymena.
I have written to the Education Authority asking that they would reverse this closure plan and that they would recognise the value of the local Monkstown EOTAS service in assisting Young People from East Antrim in continuing their education and establish a career paths.”