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Wanted: Principal for Northern Ireland school that does not exist

By Rebecca Black

Published 01/02/2016

Education Minister John O'Dowd
Education Minister John O'Dowd

A recruitment process has started for a school that does not yet exist.

The Education Authority has advertised a job as principal for Enniskillen Royal Grammar School.

This is the proposed name for the amalgamation of Collegiate Grammar and Portora.

Education Minister John O'Dowd announced in 2014 that he planned to merge the schools, however, it has been challenged in the high court.

Collegiate suffered a low enrolment last year and accepted historically low transfer test grades, which the principal has blamed on the minister's announcement putting parents off.

The high court judgment on the judicial review will be out this week. However, a board of governors for the proposed school has already been set up.

It is understood interviews took place for a principal late last year, but now the role of interim principal has been advertised.

The interim principal job advert references the high court battle.

"Potential candidates should be aware that there is an ongoing Judicial Review challenge to the Minister for Education's decision to approve the establishment of the new Voluntary Grammar School (Enniskillen Royal Grammar School) and the discontinuance of Collegiate Grammar School and Portora Royal School," the ad reads.

"It is not known when the High Court will deliver a judgment on the Judicial Review, though the actual hearing has concluded.

"The Interim Board of Governors for the Enniskillen Royal Grammar School has, however, taken the decision to continue the recruitment process for the post of Principal Designate."

However, both Portora and the Collegiate will hold open days for the 2016/17 academic year.

Last week, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Collegiate Grammar was the only undersubscribed grammar school in NI, with 62 applications for 70 places.

Fermanagh Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott said he was concerned about the effect of the uncertainly on the pupils of the two schools.

"It is a very, very difficult process where there is so much uncertainty," he said. "We do not want the pupils to suffer, we must put the pupils first."

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