Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has approved a controversial development proposal to allow for the closure of Maghera High School and the relocation of pupils in the Learning Support Unit to Magherafelt High.
The Minister said: “I have considered very carefully all the representations made in relation to the development proposal to allow for the closure of Maghera High School.
“I understand fully the strength of opposition, but I must consider the needs of the pupils and their needs cannot be met in a school in decline.
“I am committed to reforming our current unfair education system where the effects of falling rolls across the schools’ estate disproportionately impacts on secondary schools.
“I am confident that the closure of the school and the transfer of the pupils to other schools such as Magherafelt High are in the best educational interests of the pupils. I would thank the teachers and parents for the work they have done for the pupils of Maghera High over the years.”
Maghera High School has an approved enrolment of 350 and the current enrolment is 135. Intakes have been falling in recent years with only 18 new pupils admitted in September 2008.
The North Eastern Education and Library Board, which oversees the school, welcomed the decision by Caitriona Ruane.
A board spokesman said: “The Minister’s decision to approve the closure proposal will in the long term benefit post-primary education in the Magherafelt District Council area.
“The Board welcomes an end to the uncertainty surrounding the future of a school where the enrolments had declined significantly over recent years as a result of the demographic downturn.”