Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland schools' bid to share campus rejected

By Donna Deeney

Two primary schools which have had their application for a shared campus refused by the Education Authority have vowed to challenge the decision.

Groarty Integrated Primary and Gaelscoil na Daroige in Londonderry submitted a bid for a shared campus, where the children would be taught through two different languages.

The Government has set aside a fund of £50m each year for 10 years for shared educational projects in Northern Ireland.

However, it emerged this week that the Department of Education spent just £3m of the total sum.

Any money which isn't spent on shared education may have to be returned to the Treasury in London.

A shared campus would have allowed both Groarty Integrated and Gaelscoil na Daroige to continue with the ethos of their individual schools while allowing them both to further grow their roll book numbers.

Despite a well established relationship between the two schools and high hopes of a successful outcome, the two principals, Nick Tomlinson, from Groarty Integrated and Oisin Mac Eo, of Gaelscoil na Daroige, were told this week that their application had not been given the go-ahead.

Mr Mac Eo said that both he and Mr Tomlinson are furious and determined to do what they can to overturn the decision.

He said: "On the day we found out that our application had been refused by the Education Authority we also found out that of the £50m available from Westminster for shared education just £3m was spent.

"It looks as if they would rather return the money to London than invest it in shared education and our children.

"We have a well-proven relationship of cross community projects between our two schools that goes back more than three years and includes a joint football team and choir," Mr Mac Eo said.

Mr Tomlinson, from Groarty Integrated, added: "What is unique about our application is that it is the first time two schools teaching through two different languages have applied for a shared campus.

"We strongly believe that children from an integrated school and from an Irish medium school have the same right to be taught in a proper modern educational environment and not in a building which is 150 years old or prefabricated huts."

No one from either the Education Authority or the Department of Education was available for comment when contacted yesterday.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph