Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Three Catholic schools to merge in Northern Ireland as non-selective grammar

Three Catholic schools in Northern Ireland are to merge to form a new non-selective grammar.

St Michael's, St Mary's and St Paul's in Lurgan will cater for almost 2,000 pupils on different sites. They include a mixture of existing grammar and secondary school pupils.

Education Minister John O'Dowd said it was a "hugely significant" step forward.

"The time has come to take decisive action to end the outdated practice of selecting on the basis of ability - I commend the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools for putting forward this progressive proposal," he said.

All post-primaries now offer access to the same curriculum and all pupils have access to a wide range of courses, the minister said.

The Dickson Plan in Craigavon selects pupils for grammar school at 14 instead of 11.

Mr O'Dowd said: "Under the current Dickson Plan, pupils are divided up in the interests of institutions, not the children they are there to serve.

"Established friendships are split up and young people have their confidence crushed for no reason other than an arbitrary decision made on their future path. I cannot allow this to continue and I welcome the CCMS proposal.

"There is now real momentum gathering in favour of educating all children together and I welcome this gradual, but distinct, shift in opinion. This amalgamation will secure high quality education for all for generations to come."

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