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Two Catholic schools to join forces in biggest Northern Ireland merger

By Rebecca Black

A Catholic secondary school called St Ronan's is due to open in Lurgan next September in the biggest school merger to date in Northern Ireland.

Three schools in the area – St Michael's Grammar, St Paul's Junior High school and St Mary's High – will join forces to form the new institution.

A principal will be appointed next month for the school, which will avoid academic selection.

It will initially operate from separate sites, but there is a plan for a £25m building that will cater for more than 1,700 pupils.

The three schools currently operate under the Dickson Plan whereby students transfer at the end of Year 10 from St Mary's and St Paul's to St Michael's Grammar, which has been in formal intervention for almost a year following a poor inspection report that said its performance was "mostly inadequate".

The plan has been approved by Education Minister John O'Dowd, who described it as "a hugely significant and positive step".

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