Belfast Telegraph

22 Northern Ireland schools could close because of 'sustainability issues'

The report names 22 schools with sustainability issues (PA)
The report names 22 schools with sustainability issues (PA)

More than 20 schools across Northern Ireland could be considered for closure due to sustainability issues, a new report has found.

The latest annual action plan published by the Education Authority (EA) found that in some areas there is a surplus of school places, while in others there is a shortage.

It details areas where schools should be closed, merged or expanded and aims to ensure that all pupils "have access to a broad and balanced curriculum that meets their needs within a diverse system of education through a network of sustainable schools."

The plan is the third to be published by the EA in conjunction with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and names 22 schools where sustainability is an issue.

The EA and CCMS will now consult with each of the schools on options for the future.

In the Ards and North Down area, St Anne's Primary School, which has 51 pupils, will be looked at.

Four of  the 22 schools identified are in the Dromore area of Co Tyrone: Dromore PS, Queen Elizabeth II PS, Trummery PS and Drumlish PS.

Among the secondary schools identified is Blackwater Integrated College in Downpatrick.

Any decision to shut schools with sustainability issues would be subject to consultation.

While several schools are identified as having too few pupils, others have been flagged as needing to increase their pupil numbers.

These include Christian Brothers' PS in Armagh and Gaelscoil Eoghain in Cookstown.

Kim Scott, interim director of the EA, said there are a number of schools that are too small to provide pupils with access to "a broad and balanced curriculum, extensive extracurricular activities, and high-quality pastoral care".

“In many areas of Northern Ireland there are too many school places for the size of the population, while in other areas and sectors, there are not enough places," she said.

"Area planning seeks solutions to these issues to ensure all pupils have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Some areas may have relatively simple solutions such as increasing the enrolment number of a school, while other areas may require amalgamations, closures, change of school management type, or sharing of resources."

She said that the planning process aims to tackle complex challenges such as changing demographics and multiple school sectors in specific areas.

"All local solutions will of course be subject to full consultation," she said.

“The purpose of area planning is to ensure that children, no matter where they live or what school sector they choose, have access to high quality education that is delivered in schools that are educationally and financially sustainable."

The 22 schools identified as having sustainability issues are:

St Joseph's PS, Killough

St Joseph's PS, Downpatrick

St Mary's PS, Saintfield

Blackwater Integrated College, Downpatrick

The High School, Ballynahinch

Drelincourt Infants School, Armagh

St Peter's & St Paul's PS, Dungiven

Ballougry PS, Derry

St Brigid's PS, Gortin

St Peter's PS, Plumbridge

St Eugene’s PS, Victoria Bridge

Dromore PS

Queen Elizabeth II PS, Trillick

Drumlish PS, Dromore

Tummery PS, Dromore

Drumduff PS, Sixmilecross

Kilross PS, Tobermore

St Joseph's PS, Caledon

St Malachy's PS, Magherafelt

St Mary's PS, Fivemiletown

Kingsmills PS

St Anne's Donaghadee

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