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More Northern Ireland grammars may lose status

By Kathryn Torney

Two schools face closure threat in major shake-up TWO more Catholic schools could be closed in the latest proposals for the reform of post-primary Catholic education in Northern Ireland.

St Peter’s High School on the Cityside and Immaculate Conception College in the Waterside area of Londonderry could shut as part of The Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education (NICCE)’s plans for schools in the Derry area.

Both schools currently have just 231 and 238 pupils respectively.

Proposals published for the Derry City and North Derry areas are part of the commission’s radical review of post-primary education across Northern Ireland.

Three secondary schools in the North Derry area will also be affected by the proposals.

There is only one proposal for the Derry City project area and this involves the establishment of a ‘Derry City Foundation’.

The consultation document says that the foundation will build on the existing close relationships already developed between the schools.

The schools will be “strongly collaborative and mutually supportive, viable and sustainable 11-19 all-ability schools. Together they will provide for a long term enrolment of up to 7,000 young people.” The affected schools include grammars Lumen Christi College, Thornhill College and St Columb’s College.

The other non-selective schools in the area are St Brigid’s College, St Cecilia’s College, St Joseph’s Boys’ School and St Mary’s College.

The nine schools currently provide for just over 7,500 young people but have a capacity for 8,280.

The three secondary schools affected by the North Derry project are St Mary’s High School in Limavady, St Patrick’s College in Dungiven and St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s College in Claudy, which educate around 1,600 pupils.

The proposal for the area is to have a “formal collaborative partnership of two 11-19 schools which between them shall provide an education for up to 1,600 pupils”.

It is suggested that these all-ability schools should be in Limavady and both will require significant capital investment.

It is hoped that the new school structures will lead to more pupils staying on past the age of 16.

All of the proposals are based on a key directive from NICCE that all Catholic grammars should stop using academic selection by 2012.

Controversial plans for other areas have already been published.

Announcements on proposals for Belfast schools will follow tomorrow. The consultation period for all of NICCE’s proposals ends on May 31.

Belfast Telegraph

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