Belfast Telegraph

Tyrone school given week's notice it is to close doors for good

By Rachel Martin

A Co Tyrone primary school with only 17 pupils has been told it will close for good this week - having received the news just seven days before the end of term.

Teachers will ring the bell at St Brigid's in Augher for the last time on Friday.

The decision to close the school, which marks its 50th anniversary this year, was made by the Department of Education following a proposal by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS).

Originally CCMS proposed amalgamating three schools, but now it plans to close St Brigid's.

A report dated December 2016 suggests the school's 17 pupils could be enrolled at the two nearest CCMS schools, St Macartan's Primary School in Clogher and St Patrick's Primary School in Aughadarragh - 2.5 and 3.5 miles away respectively. However, it also notes that St Patrick's is almost at capacity.

It is understood principal Josephine Donnelly was given the news last Thursday and met with parents to discuss it that same night.

The decision to close the primary, reported by the Tyrone Courier, was made after the school's funding problems spiralled and pupil numbers dwindled.

The proposal to close St Brigid's was formally made by CCMS in November, with the final decision made by the Department of Education on Thursday. However, with no Executive in place at Stormont, it's likely St Brigid's would have expected any decision to have been put off until the next academic year.

The school will close this Friday, on the last day of term.

CCMS said: "The decision to close a school is never an easy one and CCMS acknowledges the invaluable contribution that St Brigid's Primary School has made to education over the past years.

"Moving forward, CCMS will work in close collaboration with the school to manage the transition of pupils and staff to new arrangements from 2017."

The Department of Education said: The department has indicated in its approval letter that it expects CCMS to work with the school concerned to ensure a smooth transition for all St Brigid's pupils as a matter of urgency."

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