Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Van Morrison's old school could be closed by next summer

Van Morrison Performs At The Orpheum Theater. 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
Van Morrison

A Belfast school which educated a raft of well-known faces — including musician Van Morrison — is said to be set to shut its doors.

Orangefield High School at Cameronian Drive in the east of the city could be set to close as early as August next year, according to media reports.

It’s understood the school’s board of governors will ask the Belfast Education and Library Board to submit a proposal to close the school — which has around 240 pupils — at the end of the academic year.

A decision will then be made by the Education Minister John O’ Dowd on the future of the school.

A Northern Ireland-wide viability study of schools showed a decline in the number of pupils at Orangefield High School since 2009/10 and that it had entered formal intervention.

The school also failed to meet academic targets of children achieving five A* to C grades — with only 13.2% of pupils doing so in 2010.

According to the BBC, parents of pupils were consulted about where they wanted their children to be taught after next year.

A spokesman for the BELB said: “The BELB understands that the board of governors of Orangefield intend to bring forward a proposal to cease education provision at the school as of August 31, 2013.”

“When received, the BELB will consider the proposal and act in the best educational interests of the children.

“The BELB also recognises its responsibility and duty of care to all its employees.”

Aside from Van Morrison, other famous alumni from the east Belfast school include writer and former 1980’s Beirut hostage Brian Keenan.

Former PUP leader David Ervine was also an ex-pupil.

Orangefield was one of several schools under threat in the BELB.

The proposed closure is part of the Department of Education’s plans to close or amalgamate a number of post-primary schools across Northern Ireland.

The aim is to tackle thousands of empty classroom seats in the schools estate.

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