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Londonderry Catholic school to close after failed integrated status bid


Ballyhackett Primary School. Photo Google

Ballyhackett Primary School. Photo Google

Ballyhackett Primary School. Photo Google

A Co Londonderry primary school is set to close in August after failing in a bid to transfer to integrated status.

Education Minister Peter Weir said Ballyhackett Primary, in Castlerock, near Coleraine, does not have “sustainable numbers for the future” despite the majority of parents voting in favour of the transformation.

Supporters of the plan for integrated status argued the nearest equivalent school was more than 10 miles away in Limavady and is currently oversubscribed, though the number of pupils at the Catholic maintained school, which has been open since 1870, has fallen to 31.

The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education said that while it had “concerns about the enrolment trends” it was confident the school would do all it could to make a success of becoming integrated.

But the Education Authority (EA) or the Controlled Schools Support Council did not support the proposal.

The EA said the school could not accommodate 105 pupils — the target number for a sustainable rural primary school and argued it was unlikely pupil numbers would rise substantially if it became integrated.

“Insufficient evidence has been provided to show how the school would attract sufficient numbers to achieve the sustainability threshold and reasonable balance in the longer term,” the EA said.

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“The information provided does not demonstrate that the school would remain sustainable over the longer term. The challenge is too great.”

The decision will be a blow to the local community as the school building is also used for health and fitness classes, language and flower-arranging classes and Farmers for Action had expressed concern about the impact on the rural community if it closed.

There are also no other Catholic maintained primaries within three miles of the school.

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