The principal of a school in Londonderry has been told not to admit any new pupils when the next school year begins.
St Peter's High School is one of two schools in the north west earmarked for closure as a result of a review into Catholic education. T
his week the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) told St Peter’s principal Martin Bowen that no Year 8 pupils should be admitted next term. Mr Bowen has also been told to transfer all Year 10 pupils to another school.
The Commission on Catholic Education released a report in February that proposed shutting five schools here, including St Peter's in Derry and St Eugene's in Castlederg.
The WELB has today published proposals laying out how the closures should be handled, which have already been outlined to Mr Bowen.
Speaking to the North West Telegraph, Mr Bowen (below) said it was a very sad day for the school.
He added, however, that he was pleased the Board had listened to suggestions from him and his staff as to how to make the closure as easy on the pupils as possible.
“We have been able to secure places for September this year for all our Year 10 pupils in other schools, which means they will face as little disruption as possible to their GCSEs,” he said.
“This was something we were concerned about but I am pleased that the WELB have taken our concerns on board.
“While it will be sad to say goodbye to these students at the end of this school term, it is in their best interests.
“The report by the Commission on Catholic Eduction set criteria for remaining open that we could not sustain because of demographics and finance.”
Mr Bowen said the report said schools needed to have an enrolment of at least 100 new students each year to remain open.
“But our figure each year was in the region of 50 to 70 and so
the axe has fallen our way,” he said. “Once the WELB development proposals are published, there will be a two-month consultation period as standard but we are working on the assumption that the closure will proceed in August 2013. Until then we will operate on a skeleton staff.
“Thankfully so far no one has ended up on the dole and the staff that are finishing are retiring and hopefully next year that will be the case as well.
“I have been teaching for exactly the same amount of time that St Peter's has existed to the very day, I began my career at St Joseph's also in Creggan on the day St Peter's first opened so perhaps it is fitting that I will retire from teaching on the day St Peter's finally closes.”