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Death threat school Crumlin Integrated College faces closure

Failing integrated whose head menaced may be replaced by new college

By Lindsay Fergus

Plans to close a troubled integrated school whose principal received a death threat could be revealed before the end of the year.

Crumlin Integrated College has debts in excess of £180,000 and its enrolment has dwindled from 300 to less than 141.

The slide in pupil numbers, which had a knock-on effect on the school's finances, started in 2010 after Crumlin received a damning inspection report.

However, the North Eastern Education and Library Board, which is still consulting on the controlled integrated school's future, has received a proposal to establish a new grant-maintained integrated school in Crumlin.

That request from the Crumlin Supports Integrated Education Steering Group, supported by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), is for an 11-19, co-educational school to cater for up to 600 pupils from September 2016.

A NEELB spokesman confirmed: "The development proposal will be published in November and this will open a two month period where members of the public can put forward their views to the Department of Education."

Meanwhile, the NEELB has agreed to consult with schools which might be affected by a second proposal regarding the current provision at Crumlin Integrated College. Following this consultation the board will decide whether to publish a development proposal to discontinue the college on August 31, 2016.

However, NICIE has said it would welcome a move by the NEELB to move ahead with the closure to pave the way for a new integrated grant maintained school in the area.

Crumlin hit the headlines in 2010 when it became the first integrated school to be placed in formal intervention after inspectors rated the quality of provision at the school as unsatisfactory.

Principal Dr Annabel Scott was temporarily removed from the top post to undergo additional training and was subsequently suspended while the board of governors investigated disciplinary claims arising from the report.

But in June 2012, when she returned to the school, parents staged a protest. Within weeks she was forced out after receiving a death threat warning her to stay away from the school. Dr Scott has been on leave for four years.

Noreen Cambell, CEO of NICIE, said: "While it has been disappointing to see the decline in enrolments within Crumlin IC this has not been as a result of integration. Indeed, the commitment shown by the school, the parent group and the wider community to retain integrated schooling in the town is admirable."

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